A growing number of U.S. workers are creating a second source of income by starting their own businesses while also working a full or part-time job, a trend known as "moonlighting."
Analysis by e-commerce platform Bigcommerce.com over a three-month period this year found an unusually large amount of activity being logged by "indie" online retailers outside of regular office hours.
Bigcommerce sampled nearly 20,000 of its U.S. stores and found that roughly 30-35 percent of all activity took place between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. CT, with a surprisingly large amount occurring after midnight.
Looking at various segments of time throughout a given workday, the data shows that at noon -- the peak time for activity on Bigcommerce stores -- nearly 80 percent of online retailers were found to be working on their stores. At midnight, there were still more than 49 percent actively working. At 3 p.m., nearly half of online retailers were working, with 25 percent still burning the midnight oil at 3 a.m.
Regionally, the breakdown of moonlighting Americans paints an interesting picture of the state of the U.S. job market:
The data found that 33 percent -- the largest group of moonlighters -- are based in Southern states (with Florida, Georgia and Texas having the highest concentration in the region). 27 percent are based on the West Coast (led by Arizona, Colorado and California). 24 percent of the U.S. moonlighters are in the Northeast (led by New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.). 15 percent are located in the Midwest U.S. (led by Michigan, Illinois and Ohio).
"The data paints a new picture of the modern day entrepreneur," said Bigcommerce co-founder and co-CEO, Eddie Machaalani. "Through daily conversations with our clients and monitoring this trend over recent years, we understand that many of these small business owners are pulling long hours to run their business and work a full or part-time job on top of that, but these numbers provide us with hard stats and evidence."
Machaalani believes this change in behavior can be attributed to either longer hours being worked by business owners, or a greater number who prefer to work late because they are busy during the day, an indicator that they have another job.
So are more Americans sticking to their day jobs and becoming budding entrepreneurs on the side? That is an interesting question considering a recent study by the U.S. Labor Department. Their data showed that fewer Americans are quitting their jobs and more are staying in the same job longer -- 53% held the same job for at least five years. Bigcommerce on the other hand, is seeing things differently.
"Opening an e-commerce business is relatively easy in today's marketplace," explained Machaalani. "These days, all you need is a few minutes, a credit card and an Internet connection to get a fully operational online store up and running. These passionate entrepreneurs show that it's possible to start and grow your own business while also maintaining an additional source of income."
Is this moonlighting trend changing the way Americans approach entrepreneurship? The findings from this analysis have inspired Bigcommerce to pair up with partner HubSpot, as well as a group of experts including current moonlighters, on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 7 p.m. ET for a Twitter chat to share experiences and advice on how anyone can start and grow an online business while also juggling a day job.