The next cohort of The Expertise Incubator begins Jan 13, 2020. If you’re curious, let me know.
I’ve gotten questions from y’all via my post opt-in survey. I’m answering the most difficult ones for you here.
The question: “I still don’t fully understand how this approach (specialization and productized consultancy) would work with the type of clients that I usually engage with (large organizations, mainly financial institutions). I’ve never been involved in any engagement in which a member offered his services this way. Is that normal? What am I missing?”
The recommendation: Some industries do have a “cultural center of gravity” loaded with norms or expectations that are incompatible with specialization or productized services.
I think often of the healthcare.gov debacle. The initial failure of that project was virtually guaranteed by the culture that gave birth to it. (Interesting read on this: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/07/the-secret-startup-saved-healthcare-gov-the-worst-website-in-america/397784/)
Could the scrappy outsiders that ultimately helped rescue the project have been hired to do it right the first time? (“Why aren’t planes made out of black box material?”) Could they have started with a productized roadmapping session?
Not in a million years. Besides not having the manpower to deal with an 800-page RFP, they would have gotten laughed out of the building during the selection phase.
Cultural centers of gravity sometimes resist certain solutions — even good ones — to their problems.
But there are edge cases. “Side doors” that can be entered. Perhaps there’s one or more of these in the finance industry?
Sometimes the side door is moving from the green to the blue triangle:
That’s not always the ideal solution, but it’s one potential side door.
Sometimes the side door is moving from low-profit implementation work — entirely or just partially — to higher-profit advisory or coaching or training work. It’s possible those folks are literally in the same client office building as you, just in an opaque part of the org.
Sometimes the side door is moving from clients that want bundled expertise to clients that want unbundled expertise. This is often a move from small to larger clients, but — as you’ve pointed out — not always!
Sometimes the side door is moving from a mature skill market (ex: Java) to an immature skill market (ex: React as of a few years ago).
And sometimes, just sometimes, the side door is a few blocks down, in a different industry.
The caveats: Finding the side door usually requires enduring a fair bit of change. Ain’t no shame in putting on the right suit and shoes so you can be accepted via the front door if that’s more to your taste!
Go deeper: There’s really no substitute for talking to someone who has found one of these side doors. Here’s a LinkedIn Sales Navigator search: https://www.linkedin.com/sales/search/people?companySize=A&doFetchHeroCard=false&industryIncluded=43&keywords=consultant&logHistory=true&page=1&searchSessionId=CJLf1ZltRpOQbJidAh2%2BvA%3D%3D
It’s 9,232! results for a search for self-employed consultants in the Financial Services industry. Because of the fuzziness of LinkedIn’s search algorithm there won’t be that many, but…
My God, that search is full of stars. 50% of those you reach out to will be happy you asked and happy to give you 15 minutes to tell you how they found a side door.
Ask ’em! Don’t be afraid to be direct as you do so. You could do a lot worse than: “Hey, you seem to have found a way to thrive as a solo consultant in the financial services industry. I’d like to do the same. OK to say no, but do you mind if I ask you how you did it?”
Take action: I specialize in helping folks find these side doors. It takes work, but some of us don’t wanna wear the “right” suit and shoes: http://theexpertiseincubator.com