Do The Hard Stuff … Not The Cool Stuff…

When trying to decide on what to consult… don’t go with the cool stuff that everybody else wants to do (and thus won’t pay for)… rather, go with the hard stuff that others don’t want to do (and will gladly pay for.)

We learned that lesson thirty years ago transitioning from part-time to full-time consulting. As engineers, we would hear about design projects that sounded cool. But those were the projects that in-house engineers kept for themselves.

On the other hand, clients were happy to farm out the not so cool jobs — such as EMI (electromagnetic interference), and area where we had years of experience.

So we decided to focus on the “table scraps” of EMI. But those table scraps proved lucrative, and we both made small fortunes doing what others did not want to do. And we got to do it as independent consulting engineers.

Another bonus was most clients did not need full time EMI help. So we moved from client to client, quickly picking up new experience and knowledge. We also escaped corporate politics, a major reason for making our JumpToConsulting in the first place. Freedom rocks!

Others have stumbled into the same solution. When engineering colleague Ken Wyatt approached early retirement, his original plan was to teach wildlife photography, a long time passion. But he quickly found little interest — although cool, nobody was was willing to pay serious money for something they could learn on their own as a hobby.

So Ken went to Plan B. (As engineers, it is a always good to have a backup plan.) He began consulting in the same area as his old job (EMI.) Was he going back to work? No, he was building a new business the has proved quite successful. And like me, he enjoys his freedom.

Incidentally, we were delighted to have Ken join us in the EMI fray. It was like having another doctor in a town full of sick people. With my business partner’s passing and my pulling back, I now regularly refer business to Ken. Would not have happened if had stayed with the cool stuff.

This is good advice for all — not just consultants. A recent magazine article told how high-tech companies often struggle to find programmers to work on the tough problems — while there is an abundance of those who can write simple phone apps. The former is hard — the latter is cool.

One last example — my older son, the catalyst for this blog. With an MBA in finance, he loves business and is now a CFO. At one time, he hung out his consulting shingle, until a client made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. A side benefit of consulting — high visibility into opportunities you might never see otherwise.

Early in his career, he worked for an accounting firm. Lacking his enthusiasm for finance, I commented, “People like me will pay people like you good money to do their taxes.” He just laughed. It may not be easy —it may not be cool — but it pays very well and he enjoys it.

Finally — as a consultant, remember that people will pay YOU good money to solve their HARD problems — but not their COOL ones.

Last year, millions of 1/4 inch drill bits were sold — not because people wanted to buy 1/4 inch drill bits — but because they wanted 1/4 inch holes.


Other posts you may find of interest:

© 2018, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

One Response to Do The Hard Stuff … Not The Cool Stuff…

  • This reminds of a quote from a fun movie based on a true story. They made it by going after the small government contracts nobody else wanted and hussling hard.

    I live on crumbs, like a rat. War Dogs (2016)

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