Image credit: Sadhbh Warren
Everyone's head is spinning with the rapid pace of change in the employment market. Many more workers are contract workers or consultants, whether by necessity or choice. Many have a business on the side. Many have 2-4+ jobs they are juggling at any one time. Those who have more than one employment gig at a time have "portfolio careers." Why do they do it?
1. They can't find or don't want a full-time job that uses only their primary skillset.
2. In order to make ends meet, they need to have more income, income that they can only get through a second or third type of employment.
3. Employers are more often asking for contract workers at all levels to lower their business risk, increase agility, and control costs - and formerly full-timers are now contractors because of this shift.
4. They don't want to just exercise one part of themselves or their interests in their worklife - they want flex-time, variety, and a sense of broad fulfillment.
For all of these reasons and more, you may find yourself with a portfolio career one of these days. Most commonly, it is Gen Y and Boomers who are experimenting with this model, but folks in the middle may find themselves needing to put together a package of gigs to meet their personal and professional and financial goals at some point.
To learn more about whether a portfolio career is for you, I suggest you read: And What Do You Do? 12 Steps to Creating a Portfolio Career. It's written like a workbook to help you get clear on what you may want to do.
To add to the content in the book, I have written down some thoughts to consider:
1. Avoid tunnel vision in your full-time job. Keep alive your extracurricular interests and read widely in the areas that interest you. See what new businesses and jobs are happening in those spaces.
2. Mulll over, on your commute home, what kind of business you'd like to start - on the side at first, perhaps, or maybe ongoing. An eBay business? Specialized mail order? A design shop in your garage for product prototyping with overseas manufacturing and fulfillment? Read Inc., Fast Company, Wired and any other magazines that open your eyes to the new possibilities out there.
3. Are there certifications you could get that would right away give you an entree into part-time work? Think healthcare, hazardous waste, biotech, education, fitness etc. Your local community college or vocational-career high schools will have certificate programs.
4. Go to networking groups for independent business people like BNI International. There will be local groups in your area. Get ideas.
5. Read magazines devoted to artisanal anything: like the "Edible" series. Here it is "Edible Boston." See what other solopreneurs are doing around food.
5. Go to your local arts and crafts society - do you want to resurrect your handicraft?
6. Think about where the growth areas are: senior services, real estate rentals, security etc. Do you have an exciting idea about how to exploit a market opportunity?
The book mentioned above will give you some useful exercises to find out what your skills are. if you don't know already, and will help you assess whether you are up for the risk and the other downsides of a portfolio career. It will help you understand the considerable benefits as well.
In summary, my main message to you is: Keep thinking about other income streams than your main job. Keep your eyes and ears open. You may well need and/or want a portfolio career someday soon!