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When I work with Portfolio Executives, at the beginning of our relationship the most crucial thing is to get really clear about the niche that you can use to present yourself to the world. When I am working with people they often say, ‘Oh, but I also want to do this’, or ‘Oh but I can also do that…’ but I encourage them to home in on a particular job role, a particular sector, a particular life stage of a company, a particular size of company and a particular geography so that they can present themselves in the most powerful way to that niche.
However, as time goes on and they build their core portfolio, there are great opportunities to step beyond the core niche to get more pleasure out of your Portfolio Executive workstyle while still earning money.
Stepping Out of your Niche
There are three things that I think you can step into that could make a great deal of sense.
1 – Larger Businesses
Alongside your core Portfolio Executive roles, look at some larger businesses where your role is less taking responsibility for the function and more acting as advisor and mentor for the person who is leading that function.
Sometimes this transition happens naturally as your client grows and you move aside as they establish a full-time person in the role that you were doing on a part-time basis. Sometimes it is attractive to deliberately engage some larger companies so that you get different kinds of experiences. Because of your presence and experience in the market, it can be relatively easy for you to find those opportunities.
2 – Smaller Businesses
Many of the people I work with love the idea of working with start-ups. I usually say to them start-ups are great but they can’t usually value what you can bring. In other words, they won’t pay you properly and they will ask you to give more than you want to give and it is not going to enable you to have a fun and rewarding workstyle.
However, once you’ve got the foundation of a financially rewarding workstyle, you can consider spending some of your spare time with start-ups. It may be you are working on a sweat equity basis. In other words, they don’t pay you very much money but you get some shares. Perhaps you will limit your role to mentoring the CEO rather taking responsibility for a particular function. This can be very enjoyable. It can keep you close to the innovation and creativity of the next generation of leaders. It can inform the rest of your practice and be exciting and stimulating. You are not doing it because it is going to be a crucial component of your income. You are doing it because it is another way of having fun.
3 – Supporting other Professionals
One of the ways to do this is to start a mastermind group focussed on emerging leaders. Let’s say you are a sales director. You look at emerging leaders or experienced sales managers and put together a mastermind group. Once a month, they come together for a couple of hours and explore a topic around sales. They support each other to develop and grow. This can be very rewarding emotionally and developmentally. You learn how to facilitate groups and you feel you are giving back. It can also be rewarding financially. For a relatively small amount of money, people can join a group where you have got six to eight members. For example, if you have eight members @ £150 per month for two hours then the equivalent hourly rate is £600. [Of course, this ignores the effort to recruit and retain members which, if you don’t already have access to a good pool of potential members, can be a lot of work.]
Going beyond your core focus as a Portfolio Executive, doing more of the things you enjoy, enriching your working life, creating opportunities to develop and grow as individual, can all flow from extending beyond your niche.
Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.