'Slashers' Find Challenges, Satisfaction in Multiple Jobs
- People ask what your job is and you can't come up with a simple, one- or two-word explanation.
- You work at one thing in the morning and something else in the afternoon, evening or weekend.
- A portion of your workday is devoted to balancing equally pressing but often conflicting demands on your time.
"Slashers" are self-employed people who juggle multiple jobs, sometimes related, sometimes not. According to career experts, during a tight job market it's common to see people of all ages, including those over 40, taking on extra work for the extra cash.
SecondAct asked people who've adopted the "slasher" life to talk about what they do, how they got started and what they've learned about juggling multiple gigs. Last week we published Part I in this occasional series. Here are six more stories:
1. Bill "Stretch" Coleman, 58, residential window and blind cleaner/stilt walker/entertainment company owner in Denver
How I got started: I started the window-cleaning business 28 years ago. My partner Jerry and I were on our way to a dinner party and the sun was shining on some very dirty windows. Jerry ran off some fliers on his boss's copier, I hung them on about 100 doors, and our business was off and running. We made about $11 an hour that first day. Years later I embarked on a second childhood as a stilt performer with the Colorado Clowns. My first parade was as a 9-foot-tall Uncle Sam. I have a variety entertainment company with stilt walkers, dancing Christmas trees, giant parade puppets, a bubble tower and group play activities. We (go to) fairs, festivals and special events within 1,000 miles of Denver.
My typical day: I start my day with coffee and the computer, responding to email, researching festivals and events, and designing clown props. Monday is usually administration day. Tuesday through Friday is window and blind cleaning. On weekends, I entertain at festivals, parades and special events. Both businesses are seasonal, with February being the slowest month of the year; June through September is very busy.
Best part: The best part of being self-employed is the continuous challenge to create.
Biggest challenge: Self-discipline. Being creative and simultaneously exercising self-discipline is like mixing oil and water.
Best tip: Be self-aware. Know what you don't want to do, and be willing to explore the things you might want to do.
2. Lydia delRossi, 55, health insurance agent/horse hoof care products manufacturer in Aiken, S.C.
How I got started: I have been a multiline health insurance broker for 11 years, but health reform changed everything. I now work twice as hard to make half as much. I had to reinvent myself. My slasher career began when I had a problem and could not find the proper tool to fix it, so I designed the solution myself. I created, patented, manufactured and launched StepnSoak (horse hoof care products) and now sell them nationwide.
My typical day: My typical day begins at the computer, downloading requests for health insurance quotes, following up on phone calls, sales leads and emails from my insurance website and sending out promotional postcards and direct mail pieces. At 2 p.m., I turn to StepnSoak. I download online orders, prepare products for shipping, send out publicity or go to the manufacturing plant to pick up orders to process here in my home office. It is exhausting.
Best part: The best part is the vision I have for the future stemming from the nationwide distribution success StepnSoak has achieved.
Biggest challenge: Keeping focused. All parts of my slash career need nurturing, and it can be difficult to keep an identity. I look forward to the day StepnSoak can support all my efforts. Until then, I suppose I will remain a slasher.
Best tip: Be prepared to have an intentional split personality. One job may require a specific mindset, lingo and skills; the other may tap into totally different skills. It is possible to do both successfully, just don't try to be all things to all people. Give them just enough of you to accomplish your daily goals, or you will end up with nothing left over for yourself. Never beat yourself up; you are doing the work of two people, literally.
3. Keith Rhys, 54, corporate hiring consultant/marketing coach in Ashland, Ore.
How I got started: I'm not a morning person. During the last 30 years, I've tried the 9-to-5 office thing on two occasions. I just didn't fit. I had to find a way to cobble together my skills and passions with what I did for a living. I really had no other choice.
My typical day: I live two work lives. In the morning I work with the employees of Fortune 500 companies, and in the afternoon I coach healing professionals with small practices who are looking to branch out and create additional revenue. Switching hats requires a mental shift, so I try to keep the two separated with a midday workout.
Best part: I get mornings unmarred by an alarm clock jarring me awake. I get to enjoy a leisurely cup of tea with my favorite blogs.
Biggest challenge: Keeping my multiple work personas with their differing marketing needs separate online.
Best tip: Be careful attempting to make what you love pay the bills. A lot of "slashers" are hobbyists who can never quite make ends meet simply because they can't commit to a business mindset.
4. Beth Avedis, 42, entrepreneur/singer/voice-over talent/fine artist in Lakewood, Colo.
How I got started: After turning 40, I realized I didn't want to spend any more time looking at the same people I had been looking at for the last 17 years in my corporate position. It was time to make a change and live the life that I wanted to live.
My typical day: Wake up and check several different email accounts and advertising accounts for my new product, a probiotic for women's health. Make public relations and sales calls, receive MP3s for songs I will be recording, get calls for voice-over session happening later that day. Learn song, consult with business clients about artwork they've commissioned, eat, start a new painting for a client, drive to voice-over session, come home, get dressed for singing gig, struggle with false eyelashes, drive to the gig and sing with band for three hours, come home, check email, have wine, go to bed.
Best part: Freedom to make my own choices.
Biggest challenge: Making time for all of the things I do and doing them effectively.
Best tip: Compartmentalize. You have to be able to switch from one hat to the other quickly, and each deserves your complete attention. Don't think or worry about one slash when you're in another one.
5. John G. Herndon, 42, accounting, finance and tax consultant/accounting professor in Livermore, Calif.
How I got started: I had enough of working in a dead-end corporate job when I knew more rewarding work awaited as a consultant. I also had enough of working for people who refused to see accountants as advisors rather than journal-entry jockeys.
My typical day: Wake up at 5:30 a.m., check email and respond to immediate client needs, get kids dressed and off to school, go to first client, (work) onsite all day, have lunch and field calls from remaining clients, teach night class or go home and have family dinner, get kids off to bed, work on remaining client matters until midnight, sleep.
Best part: More time with my family, believe it or not, direct access to decision-makers, much more rewarding and fulfilling work, and I am more content and happier with my career.
Biggest challenge: Multitasking and missing out on what the kids are doing due to multiple jobs.
Best tip: Being an entrepreneur means the switch is never "off." You are constantly looking for the next opportunity. Business development is a concurrent goal and must be evaluated (between) short-term and long-term benefit.
6. Jenifer Mangione Vogt, 42, marketing consultant/Italian culture blogger/art writer in Boca Raton, Fla.
How I got started: I had thyroid cancer in 2008. This made me re-evaluate my life and priorities. I decided I wanted to do work I love. I also felt a desire to become closer to my family in Italy -- my father is from there -- and it prompted me to learn about Italian culture. That turned into a blog. It's also let me help Italian small businesses. I do pro bono work for them because they are competing with larger chains but don't have advertising/marketing budgets. I feel like, in my small way, I'm contributing to the preservation of Italian culture. My third slash is art writer. I'm also in night school finishing a program in web design so I have another marketable skill.
My typical day: There's no typical day. I'm either prospecting for new clients for my consulting firm or scouting advertisers or story ideas for my Italian blogs, or pitching art story ideas to editors. I'm up at 5 a.m. I work from 9 until whenever is necessary. I work weekends. When you're an entrepreneur, there's no wall between your work and personal life.
Best part: Prior to this, I had corporate jobs and always felt stifled. It's great to be my own boss. It's much more fun than sitting at a desk all day. I get to meet and interview interesting people.
Biggest challenge: What else -- money. People think my life is glamorous, and I guess, to some degree, it is. But I have zero security, and I have to work really hard to get clients and advertisers. It's very competitive out there right now. There are a lot of people with my skill set out of work. You have to be fearless to give up the cushy day job.
Best tip: Be honest with yourself (about) how you feel about security. If you need to have a steady income, health insurance and structure, this is not the life for you. However, if the aforementioned sounds boring, this is probably work you'll enjoy.
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