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Thursday, January 29, 2015

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In today's business environment, small companies can be swamped with data of different kinds. Even the most local business is now likely to have some sort of online presence, and this adds a whole new level of useful information to collect and analyze.

What is more, the old streams of financial data and customer feedback are still as important as ever. Small companies will face both resource and expertise challenges when considering these issues, and it is important that strategic decisions are made on how to understand data. 

Data Collection

In some ways, data collection is the least significant challenge for a small company. Data seems to stream in from everywhere when running a 21st century business, and so procuring relevant information is not usually a problem.

Of course, some businesses will require specialist data of various kinds, but for those who are simply seeking information on their performance, finances, and the state of the market, lack of information is not likely to be an issue.

What is a challenge, however, is devising the appropriate methodology for storing such data. It is vital that a small business identifies which streams of data are important to retain, and trains all employees in where to file the information.

Both throwing away relevant data before it is analysed and keeping irrelevant information can lead to storage challenges, and will further overload an often struggling analytical capacity.

Online Data

Data procured from a company's web presence is a new source of information to most small businesses, and one which many are still trying to analyse effectively. Fortunately, this can be done relatively easily, by installing and learning how to use the various forms of free analytical software available on the internet.

A bigger challenge than expertise in this area is one of resourcing. Every hour which is spent analysing data from the internet is an hour which is not being spent on the core business, and this must be managed effectively.

The owner of the company should set strategic priorities for online analysis, and ensure that they are adhered to.

For example, a comprehensive analysis of the search terms which led customers to the company's website can be extremely useful, but only if the business is actually investing in a search-engine-optimisation strategy. Collecting online data for its own sake is unwise, and can quickly drain resources.

Traditional Data

The rise of online data does not mean that more traditional sources of information have become unimportant. Too many small companies are spending large amounts of time attempting to solve new online challenges, whilst still not having perfected the processes used to analyse financial and customer satisfaction data.

All small businesses, without exception, should be collecting financial data and using it not only to analyse historical performance, but also to forecast future cash-flow issues and investment needs. This can be challenging, as it requires a certain level of expertise which may not be available 'in-house' for all small businesses.

The same can also be true when considering some of the more sophisticated methods of gauging customer feedback. These are challenges, however, which must be met by any small company that wishes to prosper.

Collecting and analyzing relevant data effectively will lead to an edge in the marketplace, and from there to profit and growth.

This article was contributed by, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from online media group Dynamis.    


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