Becoming an Independent in Retirement
You hear it everywhere you look: There’s an upcoming talent crisis in this country, which will be exacerbated by baby boomers beginning to retire in large numbers.
This holds as true in IT as it does in all industries, which is why becoming an independent consultant in retirement is a viable option for IT professionals.
For those already active in independent IT consulting, making the transition to being an independent in retirement will be a simple matter of trending down the work they take on to a comfortable, often lighter, level.
Of key importance here is taking steps that are common to all individuals working toward and facing retirement: making sure you’ve invested enough to comfortably retire and that your health insurance provides adequate coverage.
For those gainfully employed by a company as an IT professional, becoming an independent in retirement will be a different process. It will first involve structuring an independent practice in a way that suits your needs.
There are two types of independent IT practice: consulting and contracting. The former will involve handling multiple customers on an ongoing basis. Servicing customers might involve some big projects, but the main objective will be maintaining an ongoing relationship with each customer and doing your best to be there for them at all times.
Contracting functions differently. In contracting, an independent IT professional is hired for a particular project. Here, the relationship with the client is more technical than personal, and it will require a large time commitment and focus on the task at hand. But it might evolve into an ongoing consultant relationship, as you might be called in to troubleshoot the finished product later.
For a retired individual, both these requirements have benefits and drawbacks. A retiree might not want to make the large time commitment a contract requires, preferring instead to maintain a flexible schedule that allows for travel, time with grandchildren or hobbies. At the same time, a retiree might not want to commit to constant availability for a large roster of clients, as this might prove too challenging.
For these reasons, IT professionals who become independents in retirement will need to make a complete assessment of how much they want to work, what type of work to undertake and how the workload will affect their schedule.
In building your independent IT practice in retirement, you likely will have assets a “newbie” independent won’t. Foremost among these assets are references.
As an IT professional who has been in industry long enough to retire, you’ll have a long list of contacts and colleagues to draw from when seeking work and developing a customer base. Use this to your best advantage rather than, say, placing an ad in the phone book (a strategy that could get no response or too much of one).
Building an independent IT consulting practice based on a network of contacts established over the course of a long, successful career puts a retiree one step ahead of the game when competing with fledgling consultants, and with any luck, it will enable the retiree to design the perfect retirement IT practice.