One of the biggest problems small businesses face when taking the next step is being able to make the best business decisions. Business always requires some “gut feel” decisions but better to inform your gut as much as possible with all the information you can get. Tracking key performance indicators (KPI’s) for your business, and understanding why they go up or down, can help you make decisions that will grow you business and keep you on track.

The perfect time to review your data, what data you need, and how you can track that data is when looking at taking your small business and moving it into the digital world. A lot of this data mining and data management can be mostly automated through various pieces of software however they do require the software to be set up as early as possible as they are not able to retroactively capture data.

Metadata

The first step to capturing this data is to identify what information you feel is relevant to your business, a lot of this tends to be around metadata of the users who will be using your services or purchasing your products. Information such as gender, age, location, disposable income, peak times ect. Along with deciding what information is important is working out how you are going to use the information. One of the biggest uses for this metadata is to set up targeted advertising as it will better allow you to target people who are closer to your previous customers thus generating a ‘target market’. More on facebook advertising can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/business/products/ads, Alternatively we have experience in running digital marketing campaigns and would be more then happy to offer advice simply drop an email to [email protected].

Inventory

The second area of relevant data is a lot simpler and should be something that is being tracked anyway and that is what products/services you have sold. This might sound obvious however it does end up happening that there will be products being sold from multiple different outlets even if it’s just one physical store and one on-line store. Once it expands out beyond those two into re-sellers it can very quickly become unmanageable. This is the reason why it’s important to set this up from the start, there are several different ‘asset management’ or ‘inventory management’ software tools available to use. The important thing is to research which will work best for you and your business.

Workload

The final area of data that is good to track is workload, when you start expanding the team and having to manage multiple different tasks across multiple different members of the team it, again, very quickly can become unmanageable. Being able to track the tasks being done through some digital medium really allows you, as the business manager, to keep a good track of everything and make sure no time is being wasted. Arguably the best software for larger teams in this respect is JIRA and the Atlassian suite of tools however for smaller teams these can be overkill. Our personal preference for smaller businesses is Trello, it’s really simple to use, quick to manage and gives you an accessible overview of everything that’s going on. Here is a great resource that compares some of the software out there to best manage your virtual team.

Conclusion

Once you have your business set up online it’s time to start the wheel turning. The key to greater exposure on the web is regular engaging content updates. Fortunately you can track and analyse the engagement of your content with more free online tools (some of this is also covered in our last blog post). Picture and video content may be easier for people to engage with and can help you get your message across.

Boost engagement with new and potential customers through social media, drive the traffic to your website and/or shop, build a store of customer information then use that information to directly connect with people rewarding them with exclusive offers. Engagement in social media can be enhanced with paid marketing campaigns, this will allow you to connect with new people and can be refined to target people specifically based on their interest getting the right people for you viewing your content. Your content should contain links to your website or shop generating and driving traffic to your site. Analytics software is great to see how people react when visiting your site (including what pages they visit, using what device and some demographic information such as age or gender) you can then use this to refine the user’s journey on the site ensuring they see the content you want them to.

In summary:

Whilst adapting to a ‘data based culture’ might seem like a bit of a time sink at the start and might be outside of your knowledge and experience it is a really important building block when you are working towards growing your business and trying to make it as successful as possible.

We at Brass Comet have adopted this culture from the start and have already found it paying dividends. If you would like any more information from us on how we have set up our systems or would like us to advise on what we think would work best for your business, drop us an email at [email protected].

Thanks for reading,
Tom