The Baby Boomers are known for their spirit of innovation, independence, and challenging conventional wisdom. Now that this generation is reaching traditional retirement age, many Baby Boomers are reinventing this stage of life as well - by starting "encore careers" as self-employed independent workers, consultants and solo entrepreneurs.
Nearly 5 million Baby Boomers are currently working as independent professionals, whether that means being a freelancer, independent contractor, consultant or solo small business owner. Most of these Baby Boomer independent workers are not lifelong entrepreneurs - 83% of them held traditional jobs before becoming independent. These independent workers are an ideal example of how Baby Boomers can create a fun, fulfilling and lucrative "second act" even after their traditional career of full-time corporate employment has come to an end.
If you are a Baby Boomer who is considering starting an encore career as an independent professional, there are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Reach out to your network: One advantage that many Baby Boomers have in becoming independent workers is that by this point in their careers, they have usually developed an extensive professional network of colleagues, clients, and former colleagues and clients. When starting an "encore career," the first step should be to reach out to your network. Tell people that you're going solo as a freelancer or consultant, explain the value that you can offer, and then ask for referrals or ideas. Most of the people in your network will probably know someone who might need the services that you offer. Start with your inner circle of the people who know you well and who love your work, and then ask them to help spread the word.
Keep hustling: Independent work is a different model from corporate employment - instead of a full-time job with a constant level of work, being an independent professional puts you into the (fast-growing) "Project Economy," where multiple clients can draw upon your talents for smaller and shorter engagements. The advantage of the "Project Economy" is that it's often easier to find multiple smaller projects than it is to find one full-time job - and many Baby Boomers can make a good living as independent workers. The average income of the Boomer independent is $77,000. But keep in mind that as a self-employed professional, marketing yourself and your services is part of your job, every day. Keep hustling to maintain a strong pipeline of business opportunities.
Share your expertise: Baby Boomers are often (unfairly) thought of as being less Web-savvy than their "digital native" children and grandchildren - but don't let technology hold you back. Many Baby Boomer independents need to get more comfortable with the idea of starting a blog, getting active on Twitter and LinkedIn, making YouTube videos, and creating other social media content to share their expertise as a way to attract prospective clients. Baby Boomers have the benefit of years of industry experience. Share stories on your blog and social media feeds about how you work, how you approach problems, and what you think needs to be done differently in your industry. Offer ideas and examples of how you solve typical problems that your clients face. Don't be afraid to be a bit controversial - it's better to have strong opinions than to leave no impression at all. This type of "content marketing" is one of the fastest growing and most cost-effective ways for small business owners to reach new customers and establish a reputation for credibility in their field.
Get help where you need it: Being a self-employed professional offers some unique challenges, such as managing finances, paying for health insurance, and dealing with significantly more complex tax issues. Check out eHealthInsurance for low rates on health insurance premiums. Consider hiring a financial planner (if you haven't compliance with the law. already). Make sure you get an accountant and incorporate your business to help reduce your tax burden and stay in
Many Baby Boomers who start independent "encore careers" find that this style of work is more fulfilling and more engaging than their old corporate jobs. Working as a solo professional offers freedom, flexibility and strong earning potential, without the restrictions and frustrations of the corporate world. As more Baby Boomers approach retirement age, they might find that they'd rather keep working…for themselves.
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