“If you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it.” –Peter Drucker
The abundance of data collection software available to small business owners has raised the bar for data analysis. Yet as big data becomes more accessible, the playing field is being leveled and small business owners can access data to enhance their business planning.
Accion and the Midtown Manhattan Small Business Development Center teamed up to host an event with experienced data analysts to provide tips and steps to small business owners. Here are five steps that they shared with us on your path to data nirvana!
- Find the resource you need to capture and understand your business’ data
There are countless applications out there to assist you in the management of your business. Many are tailored to specific components of your business, others can capture and manage data more generally. Here are some of the top apps:
2. Find a mentor
Find someone who is an expert in your industry or has experience with managing data for small business. Network with other professionals in your industry to gain insight into what worked and didn’t work for them as you navigate your options on apps, e-commerce design and management, sales and client retention, or whatever else you identify as your need.
There are many resources out there for small business owners including the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Program, SCORE, Tory Burch Foundation (for women entrepreneurs), and the Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream Program (for food and beverage businesses). There are also Small Business Technology Development Centers in a few locales including New York.
3. Define Your Business Question
Example Problem: People visit my website, but don’t buy anything.
Ask the Question: What’s the difference between those who abandon their shopping carts and those who don’t?
Create an Analysis Plan: What do I need to gather from my data in order to solve the problem? Look at page views? Sources of users? Origins of users? These will be called your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
4. Start your data collection
Organize a dashboard to track your progress on the KPIs developed through your data analysis plan. Track clients, sales, product inventory, and whatever else your goals are for improving your business gained through the data. There are a couple dashboard applications and software programs you can use including Qlikview (for data visualization) and Tableau Software (for business intelligence and analytics in the cloud).
5. Incorporate Data Solutions into business planning.
What do you cover when you sit down to plan for your business? Analyzing data regarding your business should be incorporated into your quarterly business reviews. Ensure that you are utilizing the data available to you re-evaluate the questions you are asking about your business. As your data mastery grows, continue to ask new questions to gain new insights into your business.
Thank you to Joseph Galarneau from Mezzobit, Dayna Sessa from Datanomy Group, Erica Dorn and Rushil Desai from Accion and Richard Holowczak from Baruch College (find more tips and data information on his blog) for sharing their knowledge.