News Article:


Illuminating Revival

Moonlighting returns to B.C. with 90's spin

By Tony Wanless, The Province

Movie-making's not a bad job, but it's insecure and isn't what Chris Turner really wants to do.

So the 35-year-old Vancouver actor, former professional soccer player, and treasure hunter has started a business on the side.

Turner runs Professional Finders, a new firm that uses modern electronic devices to help people find mementos, jewelry and keepsakes lost at Vancouver-area beaches, parks and skill hills.

It brings him in a little extra money, and also helps people who are often desperate to retrieve precious mementoes. And it may help him indulge his first love - treasure hunting.

"I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people find things. There's usually a personal story behind everything that's lost.

"But I'm hoping the business will also grow enough to finance my real ambition which is to hunt treasure in Europe and other areas. I've wanted to do that since I was a teenager."

When he started the business a few months ago, Turner became a New Moonlighter, one of the thousands of Canadians - and especially B.C. residents - who have revived the old art of moonlighting, or working a second job.

Moonlighting, which faded in the '80s, is back again with a '90s twist - that second job is likely to be a home-based business.

This trend is hard to quantify because many of those side businesses are reported.

But a Statistics Canada survey found that, in 1993, about 278,000 Canadian workers were involved in some kind of second-job self-employment.

In B.C., the statistic that most closely mirrors the side-businesses trend involves the growth of self-employed businesses without paid help.

B.C. labor ministry statistics show this trend line rocketing upward, with growth rates averaging 10 per cent year since 181. By 1993, there were 151, 000 of these self-employed workers in B.C.

There are many reasons for people to start their own moonlighting businesses. Usually several combine to push the moonlighter into creating his or her own second job.

Generally, they become that way because:

  • They want to make more money, or supplement their income. Rising taxes and stagnant wages have cranked up the pressure on most Canadians' disposable income. It now requires at least two, and probably three, incomes to live in the Lower Mainland.
  • There's more awareness that there is less job security in these days of layoffs, downsizing, buyouts and restructuring. With the spectre of unemployment present, numerous workers start side-businesses for self-protection, as a fall-back job.
  • There are tax advantages involved. Widely available tax advice often counsels people to start some kind of home business in order to take advantage of various tax breaks.
  • New technology not only enables people to set up money offices cheaply, but it also offer hundred of new business opportunities. And it especially helps those wanting to be part-time consultants, or knowledge service providers.
  • Demographics is driving entrepreneurialism. The population bulge is in its forties, fairly comfortable financially, but probably stalled on the career track. Running a side-business provides a creative outlet for the career-stalled, but still-curious, baby boomer.

"There's no upward mobility left, but people have a basic need to be creative," says Douglas Bray, a Vancouver business consultant and author of several books on small business.

"Starting a business often lets you restart you drive again. If people are stifled in their jobs, going into their own business makes it almost like being a kid again."