Transition Issues: Going Out the Door

Another in Our Continuing Series on Consulting After 50

My recent interviews with start-up consultants over the age of 50 revealed the reasons why they left their jobs. Restructuring and downsizing affected some of them, others rejected toxic work environments and internal politics, and still others were fed up with the bullying and ageism they found in the workplace. Some were pressured into management or administrative roles, others felt frozen in place and unable to grow, and many were deeply unhappy. One way or another, they all left their jobs and went out on their own. So how did it happen? It turns out there are three parts to this transition process.

1.      The Turning Point

It seems for many consultants, there was distinct moment in time when the decision arose. It was a turning point. As one said:

I decided after two [negative job] experiences in a row, I was like, you know what? I just can’t do this any more. I can't find a job…that is going to be a good fit for me, so, I'll just make my own job.

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Market Scoping for Consultants: How to Get Work

Another in Our Continuing Series on Consulting After 50

One of the best-kept secrets about consulting is that independent consultants don’t get their work by responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) or by using social media, they get their work informally. Some of the over-50, independent evaluators I interviewed recently began marketing more than a year before they left their full-time jobs. Others had no time at all. The boom dropped, and they were suddenly out. What’s interesting is that no matter how they got there, none of these independent consultants looked back! So how did they get work so quickly?

A recent survey on Marketing for Consultants asked over 10,000 business consultants what type of marketing had the best result (i.e., brought in the most money). Referrals had the greatest return for 36% of the consultants and networking was next at 34%. However, my interviews also uncovered another good strategy—strategic alliances. While only 4% of business consultants found it had the best return, several of the evaluation consultants I talked to said it was a great way to break into the market.

Let’s take a closer look at these proven marketing strategies.

Read more: Market Scoping for Consultants: How to Get Work

Handling Risk: Three Decision-making Strategies for Consultants

Another in Our Continuing Series on Consulting After 50

When making a critical decision like starting your consulting practice, fear of failure is top of mind. “It’s risky!” you think. We associate risk with unsafe or harmful activities like racing fast cars, scaling craggy peaks, and abusing drugs. It’s the potential for negative outcomes that worry us. But risk can also have a positive impact. It can lead to growth, independence, and success. So when thinking about risk in a consulting context, let’s be clear—entrepreneurship may be risky but it’s not harmful, and further, there are ways of turning risk into opportunity.

Sociologist Jens Zinn (2008, 2017) has explored the relationship between risk and decision making. He outlines three general ways to make decisions: 1) Rational strategies; 2) Non-rational strategies; and what he calls 3) In-between strategies. We need to use them all!

Read more: Handling Risk: Three Decision-making Strategies for Consultants

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