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Big businesses collect data because they understand it is a crucial part of an informed decision-making process. They understand that it gives them a ‘map’ on which to plot their route to success.

Business data is essential in understanding

  • customer behaviour,
  • sales trends,
  • business income,
  • risk management and
  • return on investment can have a profound on the success of a business.

However, while most small business owners understand the importance of data collection and analysis, not all of them use the data in their businesses.

Collecting the right type and amount of data is an excellent way for your business to achieve its goals and gain a competitive advantage. If you’re new to data collection, I have outlined below steps on how you can collect data for your small business:

 

Define The Problem

There is no point collecting data for the sake of it.

You need first to understand what you are looking to gain from the data. Once you know the problem, you can then determine the data and data source that would be best suited to provide the information.

Generally, data in a numerical format is easier to analyse. However, often this does not tell the whole story. For example, if you are looking at customer feedback, for ease, you may ask the customer to score you out of 5 or 10. Providing numerical feedback is quick for the customer, meaning you are likely to get more returns. But if it doesn’t give you any indication of what they liked/didn’t like which can be essential to improve your customer journey.

Set a Process In Place To Collect Data

The first step to data collection is to set up the data collection process that works for your business. The process should be replicable and scalable to allow for efficiency and accommodate future business growth.

Important things to think about are:-

  • who receives the information,
  • timelines for inputting the information
  • timelines for processing the information and
  • how the information will be presented and
  • how/where the process will be documented

 Collect Data Consistently

There must be consistency in the collection of data. Creating templates and data entry forms is a great way to keep your data collection consistent. It is vital to ensure that all related data is collected and recorded in the same way, for ease of analysis and forecasting.

Remember, it may be necessary to train employees on data collection or to outsource to those who already have the expertise.

Secure Data Storage

Information is highly valuable and sensitive to the running of any business. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure the privacy and safety of any data from loss and unauthorised access. The secure storage of the data collected is provided through encryption, passwords and cloud storage.

Remember that if your data contains any personal information and you are in the EU, it will be covered by the GDPR legislation. Therefore, you have a responsibility to ensure that all those handling the data are aware of your legal obligations. If you are unsure of your data handling responsibilities, the ICO is a useful resource.

Simplify Data Collection

Data collection can be quite an exhausting process for participants. Filling out multiple pages of printed survey forms might not get you the response rate you need. Simplifying the data collection by making it more engaging and more straightforward is an effective way to engage responses.

Using social media polls and online forms are some of the most innovative approaches to simplifying data collection.

Data Analysis and Evaluation

To gain the relevant information you defined initially, the data collection should be

  • monitored,
  • analysed and
  • evaluated

From there, the business owner is then able to make informed decisions with regards to

  • business changes
  • areas that need improvement,
  • where to cut back on expenses and
  • which areas to concentrate their focus on.

Data presents the business with an opportunity to advance its processes and operations, increase its productivity and attain its goals.

Where to Begin

Following the above steps will get you started on data collection and analysis for your small business. Soon you will be able to develop insights and forecast trends for your business and the industry even before they occur, enabling you to get one step ahead of your competitors.

Hiring a Virtual Business Manager with data analysis experience, like Bravapro, to support your business in data collection is a valuable way of keeping your business on top.

I can:-

  • set in place the right processes,
  • define the correct data to collect,
  • create templates,
  • select the most effective data collection method and
  • analyse the data, using Power BI or other appropriate tools

I can ensure the most constructive way to get the most of your data analysis through real-time report generation. Resulting in information to help drive your business forward.