What Can You Learn from Your Small Business Data?

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The term “big data” is all the rage these days, but what does it mean for small businesses?

First of all, let’s simplify the term: It simply means all the data in your organization, whether it be located inside a database or sitting on a laptop or email server.

Second, don’t worry about mining all of it for valuable insights that could change your business. Instead, focus on a few tried-and-true things that could make a difference.

Sanjeev Kumar of iBE.net suggests taking a look at a few areas that could yield valuable insights for your sales team: Cost-per-lead, lead conversion rate, the time to close each sale, referrals, customer retention rate, average transaction value and customer lifetime value are possible things you could measure based on spreadsheets, business software, office documents and other data you might have lying around.

Financial data could be another source of business insight for startups, like cash burn rate, profit margins and planned goals compared to actual performance.

You could also look at production and customer service data to find out things like your order completion forecast, which parts or systems fail the most, or which customers are most likely to need support.

In short, don’t worry about mining every last little piece of data you have. Start with small projects you know you can take on and see what insights they yield.

Adapted from Insights from Small Business Data Key to Profitable Growth at Small Business Computing.