How to Transition Into Second Act Consultancy

Many professionals in their 50s and beyond are considering what their careers will look like in the years leading up to retirement — or even during what used to be considered traditional retirement age. This life stage is often referred to as the “Second Act” of a professional’s career, and can be a time when individuals consider ways to spend their time in a more fulfilling way rather than pursuing titles or traditional career advancement.

Because of the significant skills, background, and experience they bring to the marketplace, these professionals often consider transitioning into consultancy as a way to remain active and engaged while supplementing retirement income or offsetting hobby and travel expenses.

Are you interested in transitioning into consultancy for your second act? If so, read on to learn more about how to determine what work you’d like to do. Then check out our Second Act Consultancy guide for a detailed, step-by-step process, downloadable templates, and a list of resources to help get your consultancy started.

Discerning the best consultancy focus for your skill set

The great thing about consultancy is that you get to decide what type(s) of work you’d like to do. As a result, it’s important to be honest with yourself about the work you do and do not enjoy. It’s also important to think about which industries, types of clients, and work environments are right for you.

Step One: Self-assessment

Many professionals aren’t sure how to narrow their years of experience into a defined consultancy. However, the good news is that there is no right answer — there is only the right answer for you.

The first step is to make a list of your professional skills. This is just a brainstorm, so don’t think too hard — just write. Then, cross out any skills that are only associated with activities you find tedious or not enjoyable. For example, you may have the experience and ability to create and manage departmental budgets, but if this is not something you enjoy doing, cross it off.

Now, look at the remaining skills and write down services you could offer that use these skills. Again, this is brainstorming, so just write down everything that comes to mind, provided it’s an activity that interests you or that you find enjoyable. Upon completing this list, you’ll have your potential service offering ready to evaluate in the next step.

Step Two: Market assessment

The next step is to consider the market and market demand for your potential consultancy services. Start by determining within which industries you will offer your services. While you may intend to market to a variety of industries, it’s important to identify at least one or two that you anticipate will have a) the lowest barriers to entry for your specific skill set, and b) the highest initial demand so you can begin earning revenue quickly. Remember, you can always expand at a later date.

Once you have a list of potential industries, it’s time to evaluate considerations such as*:

  • Demand and saturation related to your potential services
  • Your personal brand credibility within the industry
  • “Table stakes” (e.g., minimum experience, certifications) needed to offer your potential services in that industry
  • Value evaluation (i.e., the likely fees available for your potential services)
  • Network evaluation (i.e., professionals are likely to engage or recommend you)

Carefully consider each industry in relation to these questions to determine which are high table stakes/brand credibility/network industries. These industries will be where you start, as they will likely yield the quickest engagements and highest potential income. As your business grows, you can then expand into adjacent industries, or even new ones.

Step Three: Client assessment

Once you’ve identified your potential consultancy services, and considered the industries in which you will offer those services, it’s time to focus on your optimal client base.

The first step is to develop a client profile. This profile will include attributes such as*:

  • Organization size
  • Client sector (e.g., corporate, nonprofit, education, government)
  • Risk tolerance (i.e., your willingness to try something new)
  • Environment (e.g., in office, remote, hybrid)
  • Management level needed for consultancy budget approval

Create your client profile (by industry) so you can refer to it when considering potential clients, developing marketing materials, or discussing your consultancy. It doesn’t have to be elaborate — just a quick summary will do for now.

Here is a quick example a behavioral marketing professional might use for their client profile:

Director-level executives committed to making data actionable from a sales and marketing perspective with minimal supervision or internal technical resources required.

Now, will every client exactly fit your profile? Probably not! But, if a potential client is far afield of your definition in multiple facets or (worse) is the polar opposite, you may wish to reconsider pursuing that client.

Step Four: Informational interviews

Now it’s time to leverage your professional network, but perhaps not in the way you anticipate. The next step is to set up meetings with contacts in your professional network that you respect, trust, and who fit the definition of your optimal client profile. However, these won’t be sales meetings, they will be informational interviews.

Essentially, informational interviews are meetings that you set with professionals to ask for their opinions and guidance in the pursuit of an endeavor, whether that be a new job, a different career, or a new business venture. In this case, you’ll be setting these interviews to present an overview of your business assumptions and ask for constructive criticism (i.e. poke holes in your assumptions), feedback, or additional suggestions you can incorporate into your plan.

Some basic points to discuss about your proposed consultancy in these interviews include

  • Mission statement
  • Value proposition
  • Focus industries
  • Marketing approach
  • Service offering
  • Fee structure

In order to get honest and sincere feedback, a certain level of trust must exist. Sales meetings, by their nature, usually don’t have that type of trust and won’t produce the result desired. In addition, if you schedule an informational interview and then try to turn it into a sales pitch, not only will you likely be unsuccessful, you’ll also sour that relationship — which can be difficult to recover. There will be plenty of time, after incorporating all the valuable information you’ll receive, to set a subsequent meeting to discuss potential engagement opportunities.

Once you’ve conducted your informational interviews and incorporated the feedback received, you’ll be well on your way to launching your consultancy. For a list of valuable free resources to help launch your business, access and download our free Second Act Consultancy guide. Congratulations on beginning this new and exciting chapter in your life!

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?
Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Click to Download [1.99 MB]

Get Program Info


Step 1 of 6