How to use your data to expand your small business


It’s no secret that data is the driving force behind business. It can tell you when there’s a good opportunity to upsell, when to improve customer service, or when a customer is at risk of not meeting their payments. It can tell you when to take that risk, and when to hold back.

But for many smaller businesses, utilising the power of their data isn’t so easy.

Without the resources to make data capture, storage, management, and utilisation a priority, it is easy to miss opportunities to improve and expand. The business might keep ticking along at a steady pace, but growth will be hard to achieve.

But just because small businesses have small resources, doesn’t mean they can’t have a big impact. By strategically using the tools available to you, small businesses can start maximising their data, optimising their processes, and expanding their business – matching the capabilities of much bigger outfits.

Small businesses can find themselves at a big disadvantage

Imagine you had an underperforming employee that needed to pick up their game. How would you approach it? Would you sit them down, let them know that things need to improve, and tell them why and how? Or would you simply tell them to be better and let them figure out what that looks like on their own?

Chances are, you’d choose option number one. Your employee is going to have a lot more luck meeting your standards if they know what they are – if they have the right “data”.

The same concept is true for business processes.

Optimising processes is less about processes than it is about data. Data tells us whether a business process is working or not, why, and what needs to change. When data isn’t caught and stored in a way it can be retrieved again, then it gets lost. As does the chance to better the business.

In smaller businesses, catching data can quickly become incredibly difficult, for a few reasons:

  • They don’t have the people power. Unlike bigger organisations, small outfits don’t have the people power to dedicate someone to take care of each process and its subsequent data.
  • They don’t have time. In small teams, even the best intentions can be quashed by something more urgent. Whatever screams loudest gets the attention, and everything else has to wait.
  • They don’t have big systems. Due to limited options and limited budgets, smaller businesses often have more basic, generic software and tools that don’t offer all the bells and whistles

Without a systematic method of recording events, conversations, and financial outcomes, then opportunities to improve processes will slip through the cracks, and you’ll be left with disappointing outcomes and ideas of what could’ve been.

Simplify the process

The good news is, while there are several roadblocks in the way to small businesses maximising their data and optimising processes, they’re not impossible to overcome.

I often see small businesses who have used the power of data to succeed and expand. Sometimes, even to compete against much larger competitors who have great processes but aren’t as agile.

It all comes down to how your data is delivered. Nearly everything is more challenging when you’re smaller, so making data management easy is the key to getting it right. This comes down to three crucial factors:

We all work in different ways, and we all process information differently. So, to be able to make sense and utilise business data properly, it needs to be delivered in a way that suits your business and your way of doing things. This will make it easier to digest and easier to use.

With so little time and so much to do, manually managing data isn’t something you need to add to your list. By automating the “catching” and “parking” of data, all the information you need is already there in front of you, pointing out the most important things so you can act on it quickly.

The right level of information
To make customisation and automation possible, you need to ensure you have the right level of data coming in. As mentioned earlier, small businesses often feel forced into more basic software and generic implementation because of budget constraints. But a better investment is a small business software optimised to your needs, that will deliver the right information in the right format.

Set yourself up for success

There are multiple opportunities for businesses that only become noticeable when you’re listening to the data. And these are not just opportunities to improve, but also opportunities to avoid tragedy.

It’s important to remember that information is worth money. Those who are effectively utilising data have an economic advantage over those that don’t by optimising processes to either save money or to bring in further revenue.

When you realise just how vital data management is to every corner of your business, it’s easy to see why it should be a priority. Success primarily comes down to the tools you’re using. Take a look at your current software and ask:

  • Do you have visibility over all your processes?
  • Are you recording data for each process and using it to drive business decisions?
  • Can your software deliver high level, customised and automated data?

If you find yourself answering ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’ to any of these questions, you might want to reassess the tools you’re using. Software doesn’t need to be expensive or complex to get the kind of features you want. Take SAP Business One, for example – a leading solution, made for small business needs and small business budget.

Setting up your software to manage and simplify data is just as important as the software itself. At KBS, we’ve been helping business get the most out of their data for over 20 years, by offering leading solutions and partnering with them to customise tools to their needs. Click here to read how our small businesses clients have successfully achieved business growth. Or click here to learn more about our services.

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