Strategic communications consultant

Juli Mandel Sloves

I started working as a consultant four years ago. I then incorporated my business as an LLC and have been going strong ever since. I work from home most days, an average of five hours each day—typically about 30 hours per week, for several clients.

After years in Corporate America, I didn’t realize my dream job would be working right out of my house. I can provide strategic counsel and support to one client while crafting social media posts for another, all while having a flexible schedule. This flexibility has allowed me to stop paying for child care and be there more for my kids, who are now teens, after school. I think this presence in their lives is invaluable. I can see them play in their lacrosse games, pick them up from school for medical appointments, and help them with their homework (or make sure they are doing their homework).

The value of this flexible work life was never more evident than a few years ago, when my husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 bladder cancer. I didn’t miss one medical appointment or chemo session. I was there to care for him while still working for my clients. It wasn’t easy, but it would have been impossible if I was employed full time outside the home.

What lawmakers need to know: I choose to be an independent contractor, and it’s working for me and for my family. I am the primary breadwinner in our household, not because my husband was sick, but because I work hard every day and make a good living. I choose my schedule and work when I need to (nights and weekends) to get the job done. I pay a significant amount in quarterly taxes, and have had to purchase several types of business insurance, but it’s worth it to have the flexibility and the opportunity to do what I do best every day for clients who appreciate the contributions I bring to their business.

I am over 50, and that limits my opportunities in the types of fields that I traditionally support (internal communications, public relations and social media). Few, if any, companies will hire me for the salary that I can command in my own business. I would make half as much, if I’m lucky. I also worry that I will lose all flexibility and likely have to pay for people to pick up my kids from school or practices; or use vacation time to take my kids to medical appointments.

I worry that if my husband’s cancer comes back, which is a sad reality for metastatic disease, that I won’t have the ability to be there with him as I need to be without taking family leave.

Lawmakers, if you’re listening: Do you really want to crush women-owned, small businesses like mine? I pay taxes and insurance, and I have created an LLC to protect my business. My LLC status provides legitimacy for my clients. So, too, it should qualify me as a legitimate business in eyes of legislators.

Many independent contractors like me choose to have this flexible business. We are willingly taking a risk, understanding that our income may not always be steady, because we are confident that we have the talent and ability and expertise that our clients want. Many of my clients hire me on a project basis—they are not looking for full- or even part-time head count. The are looking for a certain level of expertise to supplement their existing teams for a period of time.