Be a little scientist

When I was a kid I was called the Little Scientist. I suppose I just liked tinkering with things, making them that little bit better/faster or just more appropriate for my requirements.

More than a handful of broken Christmas presents can attest to this (hi Mum, and belated apologies).

Progressing through my teen years my friends arrived at a similar moniker, “Cousin Midas” (a reference to the famed golden-touch king, however I was the bizarro cousin who’s inferior touch just rendered things inoperable).

They say that one’s core personality traits are formed by the age of eight, and indeed this obsession with tinkering continues to this day.

My businesses, marketing initiatives, products, music, car, fish tank, toddlers (!), are all subjected to my eternal Little Scientist. While I break far fewer things these days (the stakes are clearly higher, lest I render a toddler mute … or worse), any entrepreneur will attest that strong business growth is often the product of short-term audacious changes that can be tested and indeed kept should they produce favourable results.

‘But wait!’ I hear you say, ‘this is a tech blog! Get out of here with your existentialist-quasi-entrepreneurial rant!’ [ed: he’s conversing with himself again!]. However, the rules equally apply to the technology you apply in your business. The tools and systems you use are just as susceptible to improvement as any other part of your business.

Example? Every business receives frequently asked questions around a particular customer requirement. Conventional wisdom is to create a FAQ page on your website, but why not try a YouTube instructional video, a CEO blog, a Google AdWords campaign, website wiki, product forum?

Each of these options will create interesting side-effects: they might endear you to your customers, increase sales by attracting more customers with the same issue, or just simply reduce the net support costs around that issue.

The beauty is that these are low-cost options, and if they don’t work in the short term you can pull them down! Technology can be such an enabler for creating new efficiencies in any organisation.

If your tech department, website developer, online marketing agency aren’t pushing these kinds of ideas, then I’d say you’re better off finding a Little Scientist.

– Ben Prendergast