4 Ways Data Analytics Can Make You a Better Entrepreneur

11/16/2016 10:25 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2017

Whether you're a brand new entrepreneur or an experienced one with several years of running a business (or multiple businesses!), there's a lot you can do with sound solutions in place for data analytics and business intelligence (BI). Sure, you can attain a great deal of success without them, but with the analytics on your side, you can cut to the chase much quicker - skipping the guesswork and getting straight to addressing exactly what makes your customers tick.

With fast access to these insights, you can adjust your product research and development marketing strategy accordingly to increase profits. Research shows that the companies that get the most value from BI are those that are focused on collaboration with their teams, while those who don't are focused solely on technology. By 2018, the big data market is expected to reach a total market size of $114 billion.

Entrepreneurs who leverage BI know how to use sophisticated software applications to analyze proprietary and third-party business data in order to unearth actionable, game-changing insights. Today's best-in-class analytics solutions make it easy to compile information, process and analyze it, and even assist with automated, smart queries and accessible, visually rich reporting.

Here are four ways that BI and data analytics can make you better at running your business.

Find Upselling and Cross-Selling Opportunities

The customer data available in BI tools allows you to make adjustments to your business model based on what's actually happening in all aspects of your business.

If you see patterns in the data, you can easily use the patterns that speak to what your customers are responding to most dramatically, so you can provide a number of upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

To identify your upsell and cross-sell opportunities, start by listening to your customers. If you're operating in the B2C sector, perform some research into what people are saying about your brand and products on social media and consider sending out a short survey via email. If you're from a B2B company, during your account reviews, discuss what initially brought your customers to you, why they continue to do business with you, and how your product/service is directly helping them. In either scenario, the goal is to determine what other products and services could you offer that would enhance their experiences.

To deliver these offers, you can either offer them online in a manner similar to Amazon's lists of products other customers have purchased together with the item at hand. It's also possible to bundle products together, making it easy for customers to add multiple related products to their cart with the single click of a button. If you're not in the ecommerce space, you can simply offer additional products/services when you speak with clients either in person or on the phone.

These will help you make more money with little to no additional effort, while showing customers that you're being as helpful as possible.

Improved Efficiency - Save Time (and Money!)

With BI, you can get immediate answers to the questions you have about your business. This allows you to make quicker decisions without having to spend time reading through countless pages of reports before you make a move.

A good BI dashboard will give you high-quality visualizations to help you digest large amounts of data quickly, letting you get to the trends that matter. With reduced latency in your data syncs, you can make decisions quickly - before you miss the trends at hand. Cloud warehousing, governance, and embedding allow the right people to get the data they need, when they need it, on the device of their choice, at the location of their choice - whether they are skilled IT professionals or not.

Once the systems are put in place, you can get insights into how your business is performing. This allows you to pinpoint areas of your workflow and operations processes that need work, and then make a plan to improve them. Once you make the improvements, you can look at the data again to see how it changes.

This is how today's agile businesses operate, and the best entrepreneurs know how to integrate BI processes into their daily operations. According to a recent survey by Sisense, a BI software provider, found that business owners like to keep a close eye on their key performance indicators (KPIs), with nearly half of respondents (45%) checking them daily, and 17% checking on them every hour.

When you no longer have to waste time gathering data from multiple sources because it's all in the central BI system, you can get right to the meat of reports, instead of having to compile them and crunch the data with the help of dedicated IT practitioners or analysts. With that saved time, you can focus your efforts on other important business tasks. And, if your company is already large enough that you're paying employees, you can save on labor costs by focusing their efforts on the most important tasks for driving business success.

Learn Customer Behavior to Better Serve Them

With data analysis and BI, you can get a bird's eye view of what people are buying - and what they're not.

Using this information, along with customer surveys, you can find the reasons why people aren't buying things, learn which products and services you should get rid of to focus on what people are buying, learn which products and services people love so you can make a plan for improving them, and more.

When you see exactly how your customers are engaging with your brand across all touchpoints, you can start to gain a better understanding of why they're taking this behavior - for instance:

  • Which promotional placements and creative iterations are converting the best?

  • What does the performance of your various audience targeting parameters tell you about your opportunities for the future?
  • Is your website confusing, and are your calls-to-action effective?
  • Is your product copy compelling enough?
  • Is price a concern?
  • Plan for the Future - Without Guesswork

    Oftentimes, running a business can feel a bit more like gambling than an exercise in strategy. It doesn't need to and shouldn't be that way. Instead of making the best guess, or going with what your gut says, data can help you see what's actually going on inside your business and in the market at large.

    With this information, you can make solid data-based decisions and predictions, allowing you effectively scale your business in the future. Since the data is available and updated in real-time, you can effectively see what's trending and use the forecasting data to be fully prepared for various hypothetically possible scenarios.

    This way, you never have to guess about the next move to make.

    Data Analytics for Superior BI

    Today's advanced self-serve data analytics tools help gather information and make the data prep and analysis part of things much easier. With automatic processing of datasets both large and small, structured and unstructured, owned and sourced, you can get straight to the information you need, and can stop spending hours compiling data and hunting down the trends and correlations that matter. These reports can not only help you keep an eye on your business, but can wow investors, too.

    Investing in BI and data analysis can be a scary endeavor for business owners, simply because of the complexity of the information at hand. On the other hand, it's probably easier than you think.