An increasing number of baby boomers who want to scale-back from their nine-to-five job, but aren’t ready to fully retire, are discovering a perfect compromise: taking on the role of a consultant. Becoming a consultant is a way to apply the significant experience and knowledge you have acquired over a lifetime of work in a productive and profitable manner. It can also help you maintain meaningful connections as you transition into a full retirement.
What makes consulting an option you should consider? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a desire to remain involved in meaningful work before you settle into full retirement?
- Do you have expertise you would like to share with others?
- Is there a need to continue to generate income from work to meet your long-term financial goals?
If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, consulting may be a good fit for you.
Just what does a consultant do?
The role of a consultant can vary widely. In the ideal scenario, you will find a way to turn your skills into marketable services that can attract business from potential clients. Depending on your skillset, you could either provide advice, help craft a client’s strategy, or create deliverables.
Your business could center on activities such as:
- Marketing, advertising, and public relations
- Financial activities such as accounting, tax preparation or auditing
- Legal services
- Writing and editorial services
- Human resources services
- Career counseling
Establishing your Consulting Business
In some cases, a consulting opportunity may present itself naturally. For example, many individuals consult with their former employers. If you are resigning or retiring from a longtime employer, keep your eyes out for consulting opportunities – firms tend to be hungry for experienced talent that understands their business. Or you may find a ready market for your experience with competing firms in the same industry or nonprofit organizations.
No matter how you start your consulting business, the best strategy is to make plans while you are still in the workforce, especially if you intend to rely on income from your new business. Start making connections and identifying potential clients before you’ve made the transition.
Next, decide what skills you will offer and assess the state of competition in that part of the market. Doing so will help you determine your marketing strategy. How will you position your services with potential clients? What are the key messages you will use to market your capabilities? Do you need a website? Recognize that success in your new role will most likely require you to be an active self-promoter.
Finally, consider if it makes sense to create a business entity (i.e., Limited Liability Corporation, “S” Corporation, etc.). If you do formalize your services, you will need to be registered with your state. Deciding how you will operate your consulting business will help you when you’re setting up bank accounts and getting insurance, if it is required. You may wish to consult with an attorney for guidance on establishing your business entity.
Scott D. Serfass, CFP®, CRPC®, CDFA™, CLU®, ChFC® is a financial advisor and author of Family Success: Building A Legacy Takes More Than Money.