I quietly nominated today (9 August 2019) to be the sort-of-official launch of my consultancy, A Little Research, as it coincides with the IEEE New South Wales Section’s UNITE networking event. I felt that the date of UNITE set me a reasonable goal for having my business registered, web site up, and other basic infrastructure in operation, as well as being as good an opportunity as any to make my first appearance in public wearing my consultant’s hat.
While I was notionally operating as a contractor while working at Victoria University Sydney and Intersect some years ago, I didn’t think of myself as being a “proper” business since I didn’t have an independent vision of what the business was for and I worked more or less as a casual employee of those organisations. Still, I learned many of the mundane aspects of operating a business from that experience and I hope these will make starting the new venture a little easier than it might have been otherwise.
I felt that 2019 was a good time to try my hand at a “proper” business thanks to (a) having a few ideas I thought worthy of pursuing outside my academic positions and (b) having paid off my mortgage and accumulated some savings with which I could support myself while trying something new. While working in Singapore I also attended quite a few events aimed at budding entrepreneurs though I’m not sure whether the thought to start a consultancy or the attendance at events came first.
The inspiration for A Little Research came from performing literature searches while looking for solutions to problems that came to me as an academic, in one case from a small business and in another case from a government agency (the latter gave the flower-recognition example that I used on the Little Research web site). Performing such reviews before starting work is second nature when performing academic work, but my experience in working outside academia and in supervising students undertaking industry projects suggests that many companies and individual practitioners do not do such reviews. At the same time, I (and presumably many other academics) hope that the research that we produce would improve the relevant practice in some way.
So I saw a role on one hand helping organisations with limited in-house research expertise to find solutions to problems, while on the other hand helping academic research to get into practice. I also hope doing such work to be an opportunity for me to learn about a wider range of topics than I did while working as a researcher on a single multi-year research project or a programmer developing one particular piece of software.
The name A Little Research comes from me saying I need to do a little research when feeling I need more information before starting a project, and rejecting names like “micro-research” and “nano-research” due to the number of companies and products already using these prefixes. The intent being to perform small research projects for small organisations (or small departments of large ones), it seemed as fitting a name as I could come up with, albeit sometimes awkward to fit into sentences.
I don’t intend to chronicle the activities of A Little Research here—any news relevant to the consultancy will appear at www.alittleresearch.com.au—but it is nonetheless part of my adventure and may inform the blog in indirect ways in the future.