The Modern ‘Slasher Economy’ — a Look at Americans’ Attitudes on Entrepreneurship and the Future of Work 
COMMENTARY

May 29, 2024by Andrew Schmidt, Managing Director, Amway North America
The Modern ‘Slasher Economy’ — a Look at Americans’ Attitudes on Entrepreneurship and the Future of Work 
A woman pays with cash as she buys from a street vendor, Sept. 26, 2017 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

During a conversation I had on a recent work trip, I was struck by a specific turn of phrase. 

“I consider myself part of the slasher economy,” said a business owner — which, if your reaction is anything like mine, might bring to mind some rather unsavory career choices. 

Engaging in scary movie-inspired activities, however, was not what she had in mind. She was instead referring to her embrace of a phenomenon of increasing importance in our modern economy. She was a mom — slash, a piano teacher — slash, a yoga instructor — slash, a micro-entrepreneur — slash … well, you get the idea. 

Global events in recent years have sparked a more rigorous national dialogue about the future of work, a public conversation spurred by factors ranging from economic stresses to the pandemic to changing attitudes among young members of the workforce. 

These circumstances have revealed an evolving way of thinking when it comes to earning income and pursuing one’s goals. They have also fueled a major acceleration of key trends, including the growth in non-traditional work opportunities — entrepreneurship, remote and freelance work, and more.  

What are the latest attitudes towards small business ownership in this new economic landscape? What do Americans see as opportunities and risks, and what lessons can the private sector and policymakers take from those attitudes? 

As an entrepreneur-fueled business, Amway closely tracks these attitudes in a yearly study, the most recent of which found that six in 10 people are interested in starting their own businesses, up from before the pandemic. Let’s break that down even further: Around 58% of those individuals are interested in owning their own businesses either now or in the future and 37% either already have their own business or plan to start one in the next year. 

We’re also seeing Americans, Millennials and Gen-Z in particular, increasingly interested in participating in the “slasher economy.” Due to the enormous flexibility offered by non-traditional work, these pathways allow Americans to expand their horizons when it comes to going after different opportunities and passions. Gone are the days of America’s workers being locked exclusively into nine-to-fives in an office. 

Women are also leaving corporate America at record rates for various reasons, including a desire for more workplace flexibility. In the United States, 1,800 women are starting new businesses on a daily basis. That’s 14 million businesses already created representing a whopping $2.7 trillion a year in revenue. Overall, entrepreneurship is thriving in this country. In 2023 alone, we saw a record-breaking 5.5 million new business applications filed. 

So how do we continue to foster this unprecedented growth of the small business economy? By driving more public awareness around the value and rising demand of flexible entrepreneurship, and by lowering barriers to entry for small business owners. 

With many Americans seeking greater flexibility in their work and income opportunities, the marketplace is now growing to meet their high demand. Technological advancements and the rise of e-commerce have also helped boost the surge of entrepreneurship in recent years. 

Nevertheless, the barriers to entry — start-up costs and growing inflation — remain the largest perceived challenges for people to get their foot in the door (and keep it there). The same 2023 study by Amway also showed that 40% of individuals identified raising capital to start their business as the number one obstacle to small business ownership. 

My recent conversations with entrepreneurs, industry leaders and government officials from across the political spectrum have had these barriers to entry at the top of the agenda. Just this month, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel on Capitol Hill about the future of work. One of my co-panelists, Heather Chastain of the Bridgehead Collective, spotlighted a recent study about the perceptions of entrepreneurship. 

With 83% of younger Millennials expressing a desire to own their own business within the next three years, there is a massive need to democratize entrepreneurship. This has always been perceived as a massive undertaking, especially for underrepresented groups — women, people of color, etc. — who have historically lacked access to capital.

Public policy must be shaped to reflect our modern economic realities, which means continuing to lower barriers to entry for aspiring business owners and maximizing the benefits of the emerging flex-work desires in our workforce. 

Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of America and empowering entrepreneurs is essential to the health of our economy. It fuels innovation, creates jobs and advances economic prosperity at the community level and beyond.

From following low-cost/risk models to making educational resources and networking opportunities available for like-minded business owners, we must continue to foster and support the comeback story of American entrepreneurship post-pandemic.  


Andrew Schmidt is the managing director of Amway North America. He assumed the role in December 2020, following seven years in global leadership positions at the company. Schmidt joined Amway in 2013 as director of Growth & Business Development for the Americas Region. He currently sits on the board of directors for the Direct Selling Association. He can be reached on LinkedIn.

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