For financial or a variety of other reasons, many folks in our industry refuse to accept any form of clear-cut retirement. This typically results in the transition from an employee to a semi-retired entrepreneur.
This can be a daunting task. Typically, the higher up you are in any organization, the further away you are from the basic tasks required just to manage your new ‘one person’ consulting operation. The myriad of functions previously completed by your support staff now occupy your time. For example, some former executive colleagues of mine did not even know how to set up their own email or how to manage their own websites. (If you’re reading this and think that I’m describing you, I apologize…but you should know!)
Being a humble scribe has opened a channel for those in the industry considering a move into later life consulting to contact me regarding their ideas and future income generating plans. I’ve reviewed numerous unsolicited concepts, ideas and plans by former hotel managers who are thinking about hanging their own shingle or undertaking some other venture. It’s a mixed bag. Sometimes these creative initiatives are exciting. Still others are in essence non-starters.
Accordingly, I’ve assembled these six simple rules for anyone planning to make that important first step from employment to self-employment, especially with respect to the grander transition from full-time employment to semi-retirement and retirement.
- The devil you know. You’ve spent 25+ years working in the hotel industry. You know pretty much every element in the business from front desk and housekeeping to every amenities and the marketing plan. Now is not the time to contemplate a starting a new career in retail, technology or manufacturing. Instead, play to your strengths and your experience. Yes, you have passions outside of hospitality, but in most cases, your fresh fruit concept is a disaster waiting to happen.
- Keep your powder dry. Your retirement funds are your reserve funds. Withdrawals from your 401K to provide stimulus for new, speculative ventures are just plain wrong. You would never spend your retirement fund on risky stocks or investments, so why would you transfer funds to something else with an unproven track record and no guaranteed yield?
- Be selective. Unless you are in dire financial straights, you should not delve into any new job-like activity without proper consideration. Take your time and plan out your long-term objectives before you plunge. Seek help from your peers and other experts in the field. Remember, your time is far more valuable than cash.
- Be realistic in your fiscal expectations. You might have had a package of a quarter million a year or more in your previous occupation. But that does not mean that, as an independent consultant, you are immediately a rock star worth over $500 per hour. Simply put, once you go rogue, you’re now in a competitive marketplace. You have to prove yourself all over again and rebuild much of your network. There are also many other younger consultants out there with less experience but much more stamina. Not only will you have to duke it out with these young guns at a fair market rate, but you will have to demonstrate that your past experience effectively translates to consulting wisdom. Often this ‘burden of proof’ will require you to put in many hours of pro bono work in order to get a paid gig.
- Be realistic in your capabilities. Even if you have maintained a physically active lifestyle, you’re not in the same condition as when you were a twentysomething. Years of catching early morning flights and late nights socializing will inevitably catch up with you. You need your sleep. You need regular exercise. You need a good diet. Plan accordingly.
- Have fun. Remember, there are fewer days ahead of you than behind you. Do what you want to do and do it well. While semi-retirement means less overall income, it also means having the luxury to be picky about where, how and when you work. Focus your efforts on those projects that you can meaningfully fulfill and build upon your successes.
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published by Hotel Interactive on April 21, 2016).