Entrepreneurs Take Second Jobs To Stay Afloat

The Wall Street Journal:

Small-business owners who are struggling to keep their companies afloat are doing anything they can to ride the recession, even taking on second jobs.

For Darren Hammond, co-owner of Chile Blossoms, a Concord, Calif., importer of peonies from Chile, the winter was particularly harsh as clients stopped paying or fell behind in payments. Sales are down 60% from last season, Hammond says.

Last year, he had to stop taking a salary so that he could continue paying business expenses.

To manage personal expenses, such as cellphone bills and car payments, Hammond found a part-time job working two to three days a week as a customer-service representative and weekend guide for All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting in Walnut Creek.

“Everybody has bills to pay,” he says. “It’d be nice if I could sit back and collect money from Chile Blossoms and live a very comfortable life. At this stage, that’s not the case.”

Small-business owners like Hammond are looking for alternate sources of income to make ends meet and to fund their troubled companies.

Some 18% of owners surveyed in April said they are working a second job, according to the latest findings from the American Express Open Small Business Monitor.

Many of them have sacrificed their personal finances and have stopped taking a salary to deal with the current economic reality.

“It’s an indicator that small-business owners are experiencing challenges the type of which they haven’t faced for a long time,” says Alice Bredin, small-business adviser for American Express Open and president of Bredin Business Information Inc., a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass.

The goal for most is to simply bring in enough money until business picks back up. The second job, she says, is “a bridge to better times.”

Photo by Chile Blossoms.

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