Starting a small business can be challenging, but with data and analytics, you can make data-driven decisions that will help your business grow. But where do you begin? The idea of data and analytics can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance, it can be a valuable tool for any small business.
Step 1: Identify Your Goals
The first step in getting started with data and analytics is to identify your goals. What do you hope to achieve by using data and analytics? Some common goals include:
- Improving customer retention
- Increasing sales
- Reducing costs
- Identifying new business opportunities
- Understanding productivity and efficiency
Once you know what you hope to achieve, you can start to think about how data and analytics can help you reach those goals.
Step 2: Collect and Organise Your Data
The next step in getting started with data and analytics is to collect and organise your data. This may include sales data, customer information, and website analytics. It’s important to ensure that your data is clean, accurate, and up-to-date – things that a data governance approach will address.
To collect your data, you may need to set up tracking systems such as Google Analytics to track website traffic and behaviour. You can also use tools such as a CRM (customer relationship management) system to collect customer information and sales data. Tools like ERP (enterprise resource management) systems manage information on your operations and inventory levels.
Once you have collected your data, it is important to organise it in a way that makes it easy to analyse. With multiple systems, this may include creating a data warehouse or data lake, where you can store and organise all of your data in one place. You may also need to perform data cleaning to ensure that your data is accurate and consistent. Custom data warehouses directly address your need, but turnkey solutions exist for many popular platforms that can provide a good starting point while you up-skill.
Step 3: Analyse Your Data
Now that you have your data organised, you can start to analyse it. This may include looking at sales trends, customer demographics, and website analytics. You can use tools ranging from Excel, Google Analytics, and Amplitude, right through to custom Python code to help you with this step.
When analysing your data, it’s important to keep your goals in mind. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, you may want to focus on analysing sales data and identifying trends or patterns. If your goal is to improve customer retention, you may want to analyse customer data and identify factors that lead to customer churn.
There are a variety of tools and techniques that you can use to analyse your data, such as descriptive statistics, data visualisation, and machine learning. Data analyst specialists – like my team at Vaxa Analytics – can help you with this step and provide you with more advanced analytics techniques like predictive modelling, A/B testing, and customer segmentation.
Step 4: Use Your Data to Make Decisions
Once you have analysed your data, you can use it to make decisions. This may include changes to your marketing strategy, changes to your products or services, buying new equipment, or even hiring new staff.
While these steps may seem simple, they can be challenging to implement on your own while running your core operations. Consider the balance of implementing these steps yourself versus engaging help; we help many small businesses who’d rather focus on their operations to take their first steps and extract value from their data.
In conclusion, data and analytics can be valuable tools for small businesses, but it can be overwhelming to get started. By identifying your goals, collecting and organising your data, analysing it and using the insights to make decisions, a small business can gain a competitive edge. And when the going gets tough, consider engaging an analytics partner to guide you through the process and help you make the most out of your data.