Given everything that’s going on right now, it’s possible that individuals might have their primary career on hold while waiting for their employer to bring people back to the workplace. Of course, this could be having an impact on planning for an encore (or second) career. However, there is an alternative.
A portfolio career is where someone works many part-time jobs instead of one full-time job. For example, an accountant might sell insurance and do tax preparation. Or an HR pro might conduct file audits and help people update their resumes. It’s the idea of having several smaller jobs that a person can work on at the same time.
I understand that for some, this might not be optimal. But for others, this could be exactly the flexibility you’re looking for. If you’re looking at your current and future work options and thinking a portfolio career might be something worth exploring, here are a few pros and cons to consider. Let me add that, depending on your situation, some of the advantages could be disadvantages (or vice versa).
Decide carefully what projects you want to work on. The plus side of a portfolio career is that you can pick the projects you enjoy and minimize the ones that you don’t. A downside can be that in order to make money you take projects that you don’t like, and they don’t produce your best work. So really spend some time soul searching about the work you want to do and that you feel you’re good at.
Learn to manage your time well. The purpose of a portfolio career is to provide flexibility, while still making a living and feeling fulfilled. Juggling multiple smaller careers isn’t going to be easy. Losing control over your time can have a detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing. You will need to figure out when you’re going to work and how you’re going to handle last minute requests to work on your day off. Trust me. It will happen.
Consider a long-term strategy. Another great aspect to a portfolio career is that you could start with 3-4 smaller jobs then transition down to one prior to “officially” retiring. This has the potential to be a very viable way to manage your exit strategy while still accomplishing some of your personal and financial goals. But like all strategies, you have to plan and get the support of your family and friends.
Realize that you need to market your services. In order to be successful with a portfolio career, people need to know what you do. It’s possible a person might know you as the person who walks their dog when they’re on vacation, but they don’t know that you can also run errands. It will be important to have a marketing plan in place, so you don’t miss out on opportunities. Oh, and don’t forget that there may be some costs involved.
Think about setting up a home office. There’s a good chance that whatever you’re doing for a portfolio career will involve needing a space. Even if you decide to do house cleaning and handyman services, you’ll want a place to keep your calendar and do invoicing. This can be tough, especially if you’re trying to downsize in retirement. You’ll also want to think about your technology needs including internet.
Balance risk and reward. Again, remember the goal of your portfolio career. The last thing you want to do is go heavily in debt and not see a return on the investment. Maybe when planning a portfolio career, it makes sense to start small and add as time goes on. For example, maybe your current computer equipment will do, and you can save toward buying better equipment in the future.
There’s more than one way to transition your career during unretirement. Portfolio careers can allow you to start smaller side gigs while working a full-time job. Then when you’re ready, you can make those side gigs your focus. The key is planning so you have the flexibility to be successful.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby somewhere off the coast of the Mexican Riviera