“Data is Everything” – if you ever ask this question to an IT consultant that’s the answer you will get from em even before profoundly looking into the nitty-gritty’s of your business. Why? because an IT Analysts know we are all surrounded by data. Believe it or not, we eat, drink & sleep data too. How? …you can understand this by following daily simple facts of a life schedule, for example – “I had two sandwiches in breakfast today, then I finished the tons of work with my 5 cups of coffee which kept me energized all day long, finally I slept for 14 hours straight”.
So, the “two”, “5” & “14” are data here, associated with food, drink & sleep tasks hence every person, thing or task in one way or another is associated with data. Data is all about numbers and information so imprint this in your mind – “Numbers are good for my business”. Let’s see what data can actually do for your business & how one could reap the benefits from it.
Your business is your passion and you’ve worked hard and given everything to bring it to what it is today. But we know that sooner or later we would not only need to sustain it but expand our boundaries as well. Like if you are a freelancer, you may have started landing work via word of mouth, references or by using advertising methods similar to what everyone in the same field of work is using. You know you are capable and hardworking but at times your may not be getting any new prospects for your business or even if you are getting leads, they may not be converting anymore. You need to understand whether your business is turning over or not, whether your numbers [profit, clients, employees, resources] are increasing, if not then you may have to look deeply into the numbers.
Don’t worry, data to the rescue. Data will not only help you analyze but will also help you in decision making and forecasting.
In business world, business doesn’t run on assumptions. There is some fundamental groundwork that each and everyone should do to stay up ahead in the market.
Companies of all sizes constantly need to query and aggregate their large amounts of data to make fast decisions. Businessmen around the globe, strive to collect various kinds of data & utilize it in many different ways. Day by day the market competition is going up, there is an increase in numbers of startups entering the market but many closing up early every year, much old business crunching & saving up more numbers to do better business (this is Big Data Wave).
Let’s discuss what kind of basic data you should collect to analyze, get ahead of the game by beating competition and running your business smoothly, read below:
Trend Data or BI (Business Intelligence) Data – Whitepapers
This is the most basic & prime question you should ask yourself – What trend is going on in my area of expertise. Trends won’t last for long and keep on changing over time, therefore, understanding the trend data can help you in making crucial decisions to avoid or overcome those dead end points which every business entity faces once in a while. Try to explore the internet, read every day & if you find any Business Intelligence agency out there giving niche Q-Reports in your business segment definitely subscribe to their whitepapers if you can.
The key point to note here is not to go global or enlarge your tasks while gathering data – try to be specific and keep within the boundaries of your business target locations. You should go global only when your business demands it. Data gathering & analysis is a daunting task and too much data could be overwhelming to absorb and waste too much time if not handled properly. Start small but start smart.
Customer & Sales Data – New, Existing
If you are new to the game or just starting up, you might have only few customers at the start, but as you move forward, you grow with your customers. In fact, growing business is directly related to growing customers and if you are not growing customers you are not growing at all. It’s a good habit to keep track of your customers right from the day one you got your first customer. There are two kinds of data you have to care about when it comes to gathering customer data – one is existing customers & other is new customers.
A consolidated record of existing customers not only helps you in tracking your company’s previous sales performance but also in delivering quality after-sales service & generating more references from them with right follow-ups. Gathering new customer’s data is equally importance – it helps you in pitching your product to the new segment of people looking out for your services and in generating more leads which end up getting added to the existing customer database eventually.
Competition Data –
Aha! I can see the grin on your face because this is the part of business nobody wants to lose out on & your instinct is absolutely correct on this one. We all do competition analysis, some do casually & some do intensively. It’s always wise to keep track of your business competition.
Competition is good for any business (off-course in a healthy way). Gather data like how many sales your competitor does on average, what extra services your competitors are providing, how they are targeting their customers, their business selling & marketing strategies, technological advancements they are using, how they are managing their staff etc. If done correctly, it can push any business to its edge and outperform its rivals because getting the exquisite taste of winning your customers from your competition is the best any business can have.
In-house Reports & Case Studies –
Competition data is a wise choice but it’s equally wise to store what you learn from your customers & your own mistakes. Try to create or search for case studies over the internet, try to be in touch with the people doing business in the same category as you do and learn from them, read and analyze in-house business performance reports & document how you benefiting your clients with your services. I have found that the intelligent businessmen learn from their mistakes, they keep data and track reports of what went wrong or proved right, which methods gave them performance results or where they lacked in giving desired results & finally what can be done to improve business performance.
Remember you cannot count on luck to hit the jackpot at first shot. In fact, there is no such thing as being lucky in business, either business people learn from their mistakes or they learn from others. Even on a small scale or at individual basis, you should start tracking this kind of data.
In our next blog I will be discussing what tools we can use to collect, manage, store & analyze above mentioned business data. Your comments are most welcome.