So I spent a bit of time researching consultancy. Part of the appeal is that it doesn't necessarily require you to immediately jump from the existing ship to make a start of it. And I do quite a lot of informal consultancy work in the course of the job and it's the part I actually find the most rewarding and productive.
In my experience there are two worthwhile types of consultant:
- generalists who help you realise what you know and what to do with it; and
- specialists who are there to provide specific expert knowledge.
(I'm not interested in the types that aren't worthwhile; especially not the "percentage slicers" from the big management consultancy corporations.)
Thinking about it objectively my knowledge isn't especially specific or particularly expert, especially when viewed from the world outside Helminthdale. So I'd have to try to sell myself as the helpful generalist I can be when the mood takes me. Which is where I would frankly struggle. What would be my selling point? I'm an excellent listener and know how to ask questions that can lead people to answers they need rather than answers they want. Some of that comes from the days when I did advice work: more often than not the presenting problem wasn't the reason for seeking advice and you had to learn the ways of getting to the nub without either scaring off or antagonising the client. (Besides, it's down to my basic wiring: if somebody says: "I want to get there" my first inclination is to ask why.) Which is all well and good but is a difficult thing to sell to a stranger. And that's what I'm really bad at. I can talk up the good points (there are many!) of our services. I can help friends and colleagues identify and even buy into their strengths and experiences. But myself? Nah... Which makes for an important handicap in entering any competitive market.
Furthermore, I'd need to get my act together rather better than I have these days. Organisationally I'm currently a shambles almost on a par with the library service. A catastrophic impediment to the jobbing consultant I'd think.
Finally, there's all those people waiting to see if they're going to be having to walk the plank next year. The market will be saturated with wannabe consultants of one stripe or another. Yeah, I know there's always room at the top but you still need to force your way through the crowds to get to base camp in the first place. At this stage of my life I don't think I have the confidence or gumption to do that effectively. So it looks like I'm going to have to do something about that.
In the mean time it looks like consultancy isn't my Plan B. A world breathes a sigh of relief.