Discussion in 'Jobs (Discussion)' started by Yokel, Jun 8, 2011.

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  1. I am currently "in between jobs" and to be honest it is getting me down. One idea that I've had on and off for years is selling my knowledge - ie a sort of consultancy.

    My background is in Electronic Engineering - particularly Communications, which I am a graduate in. I've had experience with a number of companies, mainly testing and setting up things, and hopefully my technical background shows in my posts on ARRSE and other sites. Additionally I have been involved with the RN for nearly two decades - initially attempting to join as a WE Officer and more recently as a Reservist.

    So my thinking goes like this:

    Is there a market for advising people (in the media elsewhere) about the basic technical issues of things? For example, I used to shake my head when I saw TV programmes that didn't quite get - things like programmes regarding the Falklands was and discussing the loss of HMS SHEFFIELD and discussing the fact that her SCOT terminal used the same frequency band as "she used to detect Exocet radar" not quite getting it that the Exocet radar used the same frequencies as SCOT, therefore SCOT use blinded her ESM sensors.

    Likewise - is there a market for giving advice to businesses on basic technical issues, for example in supporting the selection of new equipment or in making decisions? I can write briefing papers and reports for the non technical, and explain things in plain language. I might also be able to offer quick and nasty demonstrators or prototypes - I am particularly interested in the application to technology to things like maritime force protection...or security.

    Any ideas? I wouldn't know where or how to start - so maybe someone has ideas.....
  2. Any business is about supply meeting a demand, and we find the demand through Market Research.

    Approach businesses in the sector that your interested in, and ask them what support they need and would be prepared to pay for. Let their demand shape your business!

  3. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    find a reserve unit and get some time in, cheer you up no end.
  4. Already a Reservist...
  5. udipur

    udipur LE Book Reviewer

    In terms of research, what firms are sourcing the equipment about which you are a SME (subject matter expert)?

    How do they go about procuring such gear?

    Who's the geezer who signs off the deal?

    What's his phone number?
  6. H3

    H3 LE

    You mention .. " maritime force protection...or security " so why not get in contact with those who deal with such matters and see what you can transfer across in an advisory style role .... best of luck .
  7. Well I recently had a "what am I good at?" type brain storm and came up with:

    Finding information
    Learning how things work
    Making things work better and making broken things work
    Learning new things
    Organising information into a logical order and setting it out in writing
    Helping people with problems
    Expressing ideas in an ordered way
    Explaining technical issues in plain English
    Using and analysing numerical information - charts/graphs etc
    Solving technical problems
    Solving other problems with lateral thinking and things like that
    Using keyboard/IT skills to produce documents that look good and make sense
    Working with others
    Putting things together or taking them apart
    Persuading people

    So my idea sort of runs like this:

    Producing briefing papers and reports on technical issues for non technical management typs and non technical companies (or non electronic anyway), possibly media types
    Decision making support - qauntitive analysis of alternatives, application of SWOT, PEST, and other methods
    Advising on component/system selection and evaluation, particularly in terms of "what if?" and "so what?" - if system x is chosen over system y, what are the implications? Cost? Maintenance? Upgradibility? Compatibility? What support does it need (power supplies, water, etc)

    The most complex bit - and one only to be undertaken if everything else is going wll, is building one offs, concept demonstrators, and prototypes. Obviously this would reqiure some investment in equipment.

    I think that my ideas do have merit.
  8. I think that the media often don't like it when someone tries to ruin their arguments with facts. If they want to make a point, they will make it, regardless of the truth of the situation.

    "Learning how things work" is very similar to "Learning new things"

    "Making things work better and making broken things work" is synonymous with "Putting things together or taking them apart"

    "Helping people with problems" is a very vague statement, and is probably covered by "Solving technical problems" and "Solving other problems with lateral thinking and things like that", both of which are similar to the 'things' statements above.

    "Organising information into a logical order and setting it out in writing" is not unlike "Expressing ideas in an ordered way", "Explaining technical issues in plain English", "Using keyboard/IT skills to produce documents that look good and make sense", and "Using and analysing numerical information - charts/graphs etc" (and I would perhaps question this, in view of the way your list was compiled).
  9. I've cut and pasted the second list....
  10. So, that's the "Finding information" and "Persuading people" boxes ticked ;)
  11. TheIronDuke

    TheIronDuke LE Book Reviewer

    OK, I am trying to help but I have limited time. There is a superb art exhibition opening tonight and I must be there, so you have about 4 minutes?

    You have lost me. Sorry, but that shit is so esoteric and specialist, you are never going to find a market.

    Clearly, you have honed skills and have put your time in at the sharp end. But that was then, and his is now. Might I suggest you look at your basic skills set? Like you are blinding at mil/security software stuff (just a guess) so take a broad look at the security sector? Biometrics is wide open at the moment and fast algorithms seem to be sexy? Mostly in China and Korea.

    Excocet is old news. The tech that made it happen is not.

    Be lucky.
  12. If this isn't a wind-up, it should be.

    Surely your not serious.

    If you want to start a business, find out what people need and then supply it. You have some specialist knowledge so research how it can be applied. Get in amongst the users, then look, listen and ask questions.

    I'm a self employed analyst. I began after attending a conference where I thought, 'this would be so much better if'. So I asked around, and people said 'yes, we want some of that and yes...we'd pay for it.' I'd only gone along to meet an old friend!
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

  14. TID

    Never got to the sharp end, sadly.

    The Exocet radar thing was just an example of the fools in the media not quite getting it, other examples include not understanding how electricity is generated and distributed, how mobile phone networks work, etc.


    I'm thinking out loud.


    I've never had any technical writing training - however, one of my previous jobs included writing production documentation....
  15. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    Neither did I when I started. I got out of metallurgy (which was dying on its feet) and into technical authoring by applying for any job that cropped up within a 25 mile radius. I ended up working for a major software company.

    Its not so difficult if you're prepared to learn to use the software you're describing. Then you can work through a task step by step and describe those steps for users of the application. The skill set you've described is perfectly adequate. You just need to:

    - Learn Word properly - templates, styles, etc., so you can produce nice looking Word documents
    - Learn a graphics program like GIMP so you can take decent screen shots. All I normally do is take a screen grab, crop it to size, maybe scale it and save it as a jpg file for insertion into my documentation.
    - Learn a program that'll produce flowcharts. I use Microsoft Visio, but the Draw package in Open Office (which is free) will get you started. You can also use Draw to annotate screen shots by importing the image into Draw. (After annotating then, just re-screen grab then back into GIMP).

    You'll also need to learn a Authoring tool. RoboHelp is something you'll pick up easily - I taught myself to use it. FrameMaker is what the pro's use. It's difficult to learn, but does produce damn nice looking documents. (Stay clear of firms wanting FrameMaker experience when you first apply).

    There are some free help authoring tools here:

    Free Help-file authoring tools - Freebyte's Guide to

    Have a play with HelpnDoc - having had a quick look at the video it looks like a simple version of RoboHelp. It'll give you a rough idea of what it's like to write on-line help files.

    Typically what you do is produce a on-line HTML help file (they often have extension .chm), which the developers hook into the software for you. (This is what comes up when you click the Help button). You also convert the on-line help into a PDF file, which ships with the software and can be printed out.

    Have a look at some existing help files - you'll soon get an idea of how its done. At the same time, invest a bit of your time into learning the software I've mentioned above. You should be able to produce a very simple help file for yourself. Write one or two small ones that mimic the ones that come with any software you might have installed on your PC and you can give yourself some basic experience as to what's required.

    Then just 'big up' any document writing you've done in the past in your CV and start firing off applications.