One of the most powerful tools available to business owners are data, and in the Internet age we have unprecedented access to all kinds of raw information.
The thing about data analytics and insights is that they mean nothing unless you have the organization to support the decision making for change and improvement. The link between turning insight into business growth are the human elements of critical thinking and decision making.
Large companies have entire teams dedicated to analyzing data and managing business system change and process change, but for many small businesses, there is rarely that luxury. The good news is that you can manage your data, and you can grow your company with data analytics and insights, but you have to set up the right internal infrastructure first.
The following five steps are a basic outline for getting your analytics game on point:
- Set Goals
- Find Your KPIs
- Start Small
- Use the Right Tools
- Manage Change
1. Set Goals
Analytics mean nothing if there are no goals. One of the easiest and simplest ways to get your company aligned is to make sure that everyone is pursuing the same goal. Set SMART goals at that. Make sure everyone knows what’s urgent, what’s important, and what the are the next steps and deliverables needed to make those goals happen, even if it’s just you. Can data help us make better decisions? If so, then you need to set your KPIs.
2. Find Your KPIs
Determining the important metrics to be monitoring, isn’t always easy and/or readily apparent, but analytics mean nothing if there are no KPIs. KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are the group of important metrics that contribute to change. Whether it’s unit sales or increase in readers that affects your business the most, choose metrics that truly contribute to growth. Often we can get distracted by numbers that are positive, but don’t really contribute to growth, they just look good on paper.
3. Start Small
Data is overwhelming, so you don’t need all of the data all of the time. Once you’ve identified a few important KPIs stick with those and measure progress over time. Once you feel comfortable with the KPIs you have chosen and have worked measuring them into your routine, and making decisions based on your data, then add more as you feel comfortable doing so, but there’s no use in overwhelming yourself or your team.
4. Use the Right Tools
There are analytic tools for everything these days. And we do mean everything. There is always some dashboard or new plugin or platform you can add to your business processes in your sales cycle, in your blog marketing, in your email blasts, employee training, employee communication and performance tracking. The list goes on. And if you can’t find it off the shelf, someone is quite readily available and willing to help you build it if they see value.
Depending on what KPIs you’ve chosen for your business there are tools that exist that do in fact optimize reach and automate A/B testing for you to leverage the data that has been received. The tool you choose will ultimately depend on the goals and KPIs you’ve set for your company.
5. Manage Change
All of the data means nothing, if you aren’t willing to make changes based on what the data shows. Many small businesses are comfortable at status quo, but if you’re looking to grow your business that might mean making tough decisions that affect the current way of doing things, or that will require new processes or systems that are implemented which requires managing the change.
Building out the right processes and communicating with the team on the new way of getting business done. This also goes back to goal setting, and making sure that short term goals align with long term goals and that the work being produced supports company goals.