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How to use data in your small business - for non-techies.

Posted by Will Milch - 03 August, 2018

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For any small business owner, the world of data and analytics is complicated and almost impenetrable. Maintaining a business is hard enough without having to dedicate so much of your time to learning numbers. However, there are several ways that you can use data in your company strategy without having to learn what to sift through countless articles and supposed experts who lead you on.


Take advantage of whatever data you have.


Already, you may have access to some sources of data. The first step in understanding data, like with most things, is to understand what you have. You may have reported on transactions you have made at a register that you can compile. If you have a website, most sites provide some analytics to help you understand where visitors interact most with your website. Making sure you are aware of and follow the data streams you already have access to allows you to know where your business is, and where you can improve your data collection methods.



Implement easy data collection methods


You don’t need to have a degree in data analytics to get a sense of the kind of data your business produces. Every companies data collection strategy should be as unique as their company. For some, collecting qualitative data like surveys collected digitally or in-store, make sure you follow guidelines for collecting data. For others, making sure you can track users on your website is another goldmine of valuable data for you to understand. Still, more will find a unique way to combine these qualitative and quantitative elements. Whichever way you decide to implement, there are quick and easy executing processes to track and compile data that anyone can use.


Narrow the Data Stream


Now that you have implemented some data collection tools, your challenge is going to be narrowing down the data streams where you pay attention. The biggest problem that most people, especially small business owners face is understanding what is sifting out the value streams from the extensive amount of data that you are trying to collect. Statistics like what people are clicking on in your website, and where people leave your web pages are some examples of critical statistics you should be tracking. By focusing only on these key metrics, you will have a clear understanding about the goals you have set for your business.



Use data in Decision Making.


To grow rapidly, a business needs to make sure it understands how it is operating, and where it wants to go. In practice, both of these factors should be informed heavily by the data you collect as a company, both setting measurable and trackable goals, and following through by paying attention to the key metrics that inform that goal. When a business gets to the point where they reliably predict where key metrics will fall month to month, they have successfully been able to understand their business. This is only possible through experimenting with different factors and seeing how they pay out in your business. While investing time in experimenting which factors affect your business, these decisions will pay off very well, providing you a window into your own operation and a clear roadmap to growing your business - without being a data scientist!



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