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Saturday, May 13, 2017

How to Become a Coach or Consultant After You Retire | Harvard Business Review

Photo: Dorie Clark
"Start recruiting clients now" inform Dorie Clark, marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker, and frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review. 

The vast majority of senior professionals don’t want to “retire. They have interesting, fulfilling work that they’d like to continue — just not at the frenetic pace of top corporate jobs. That’s why so many, lured by the promise of flexible hours, higher rates, and location independence, are intrigued by the idea of becoming a consultant or coach when they retire from their “official” career. Of course, competition for these plum positions is growing. A 2016 study estimated that there are more than 53,300 professional coaches worldwide, and the British paper The Independent pegged the number of management consultants at 500,000.

How can you differentiate yourself in a crowded field filled with your high-level peers (54% of coaches are age 50+)? Here are five things to keep in mind if you’d like to become a consultant or coach after you retire.   

Give yourself sufficient runway. 
Any career change is disruptive to a certain extent. The more time you give yourself to plan and prepare, the better off you’ll be (one to two years is good, and three to four years is better). Albert DiBernardo, who is now the head of strategy and development for a major engineering firm, told his board three years ago that he’d be retiring at age 65, and in his performance review last year set a specific departure date: December 31, 2017. “My ‘new beginning’ was cast in that moment,” he said, “and it felt great.” 

Though some people might be concerned about acquiring “lame duck” status, giving your company plenty of time for succession planning allows you to make a thoughtful departure and cap your career knowing your legacy is in good hands. Even if you prefer not to tell colleagues about your intentions so far in advance, creating your own internal timetable can allow you to plan your finances and any life changes (moving, selling your house, etc.) that your retirement and new career might entail.   

Do a skills analysis. 
Over the years you’ve probably become an expert in your field. But becoming an independent coach or consultant requires a suite of entrepreneurial abilities on top of your subject matter knowledge. If you’ve given yourself a sufficient planning horizon, you can take the opportunity to bolster necessary skills, such as public speaking and social media. (I’ve created a free self-evaluation tool kit to help you determine where it’s most fruitful to focus your efforts.) 

You might also consider pursuing a certification — though debates rage about whether these are worthwhile — or taking targeted courses to accelerate your knowledge. They could be executive education courses offered by universities, or programs offered directly by professionals about everything from creating online courses to becoming a recognized expert.

Source: Harvard Business Review