How Data Can Narrow the Playing Field for Small Business
Data Driven Economy
We live in a world where data has become one of the most valuable resources. Many types of businesses, regardless of industry or sector have jumped on the data bandwagon over the last decade. One of the biggest challenges small business owners face is limited resources, whether it be time or money. But data can help your business:
Become more efficient
Find better opportunities
And most importantly help you make better decisions
With data, you don’t need to base decisions on a hunch, you have facts behind you.
Do I need Data?
When a lot of people think of data they think of the “big data” that companies like Amazon and Google use. However, many small businesses don't think about the data they currently have access to. Every time you ring in that new sale, there are benefits that extend beyond the cash value. Knowing your customer is your best offense in this new customer-driven world where smart and savvy shoppers know what they want.
Small businesses cannot (and should not) try to compete on price, but with the help of data they can provide personalized services to their customers. For example, in large organizations, sufficient time is needed to react to customer preferences, but small business owners can be nimble and quick in response to their customers’ needs. You can also use data to target a certain demographic, your biggest spenders, or most frequent shoppers.
After the past several years of working with organizations that don’t have a lot of resources, I’ve found that simple data analysis can be just as effective as the complex systems many large organizations use. Though data can provide valuable insights, it can become very expensive and complex for a small business owner. A simple place to start is identifying trends using your own historic data. There are many tools that are free, low cost, and easy to use that you can start with such as:
Google Analytics: tracks traffic on your website, and evaluates the performance of your content and marketing.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): from time to time make sure you are monitoring your sales process. Do certain customers sit in your pipeline longer than average? Are you spending too much time with a segment of customers that don’t yield the results you are looking for? Your CRM is a great place to evaluate how effective your sales process is, and if you need to be making any adjustments so you are spending more time on leads that are more likely to close.
Social Media: can be very effective for your small business depending on your customer base. Not only can you track new followers, likes, or mentions of your business, but it’s a great way to connect to potential customers that you otherwise may not have had access to. Furthermore, it can build brand awareness and show the value that you can bring to your customer.
I can’t use it for everything?
Now as much as I personally love crunching numbers, I realize the limitations of data. Analytics does not replace the relationships you build with your customers, nor does it make the final decision for you. However, having the right data can help you target the right customer and it can help you make better decisions. It is a valuable tool to help guide your small business. Because at the end of the day, people will gravitate to your story, your brand and ultimately how you will help them improve their lives.
We would like to thank our guest blogger, Rochelle Greaves, Story Point Consulting.
Co-founder Story Point Consulting
Rochelle collaborates with small nonprofits, coaching new fundraising professionals, staff and volunteers that lack formal training in fundraising. She uses her data analytics background to help small teams get more work done and improve communication with donors.
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