On Expertise

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine reminded me of my own days as a business consultant, but what really struck me was how much it sounded exactly like the kind of activities that academic faculty already engage in or are being asked to engage in:

Are you an expert? If so, you might be able to profit from your expertise in a side business apart from your everyday work. How? By selling products teaching other people about your area of expertise.

You may have a hobby and find yourself answering other people’s questions about what you do in online chat rooms. Or you may have developed great ways to perform services in a particular business. You may be able to package what you know into an information product.

It might take the form of traditional books, audio programs, videos or DVDs, magazines, newsletters, ebooks, membership websites, teleseminars and webinars, telecoaching programs, seminars and conferences, and combinations of these. Businesspeople and consumers alike need to learn about solutions to problems they have in a convenient and useful format.

Consulting as “side work” is quite common among business and engineering faculty, but less common in the humanities and in those sciences that are further away from the “applied” arena. Curiously, much of the discourse around web entrepreneurship — I am thinking here specifically of bloggers and others who host similar independent content creation sites — advocate a very similar set of activities: get exposure in as many channels and arenas as possible.

Let’s hope it works. I am certainly going to try for it.