An A To Z “Data-first Business Guide” For Beginners

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Before you keep reading, I would like you to remember: How many times did you hear the below terms in the last three months?

  • Driven by Insights
  • Data-first business
  • Digital Transformation
  • Data-driven marketing

The answer is probably “a lot.” Now, please attempt to write down three actions you may take to bring the above statements to life. If you find this task difficult enough, this article is for you!

As a small business owner or start-up CEO you will probably hear a lot of people talking about digital transformation and the importance of data in business success – but how to get started is often noisy, unclear and confusing.

First things first, let’s start with your business KPIs – regardless of whether you are a B2C or B2B business, you always need to be on top of the following numbers:

  • Sales (number of transactions, items sold, or projects closed)
  • Revenue
  • Average Order Value (how much revenue you make per sale)

In practice and as a bare minimum you need to maintain the following table:

January February March Etc.

Now that you are on top of your business performance, let’s start thinking a bit about branding. You are probably already investing in content, Social Media calendars and potentially digital advertising to grow your business.

A basic report you need to maintain is to summarise your branding, social media, website and CRM performance and it should look something like the following table:

Channel Metric January February March Etc.
Website Traffic
CRM Number of Subscribers
Instagram Followers
Engagement Rate
Facebook Followers
Engagement Rate

You can already visualise the patterns, trends and the benefits that the above data will bring in your decision making. This is effectively what we call “driven by insights” or “data first-business.”

Here comes the juicy part – the above logic is very simplistic and straightforward to follow. However, based on my experience over 90% of SMEs do not have clarity on the above metrics for their business? But why?

The answer is time and resources. You are a solopreneur, or a small business and your team need to be on top of a million things – when will you find the time to collect, visualise and analyse those data? Buzzword number 3 comes to the rescue! You see digital transformation is not a theoretical concept, but rather a practical application of digital automation to solve everyday business problems.

As a starting point, you need to invest in technology. A simple solution like Google Sheets should be enough to be able to aggregate data collection from multiple data sources without having to manually pull every single report.

Last, but not least comes “data-driven marketing.” Data collection and visualisation are only a means to an end. As a next step you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • If we analyse our monthly performance – are we making progress?
  • If so, what is the main contributor to our success?
  • If not, what do we need to change?
  • If we cannot identify the cause of success or failure, what do we need to investigate further?

“During the day, create the numbers, the business. At Night, analyse it.”
– Oliver Samwer, founder of Rocket Internet

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