Stop Making Business Decisions On Gut Feel!
Running a business is like running a long, endless marathon with lots of unexpected twists and turns.
It’s hard to have all the answers, all the time…or the time to figure out all the answers. We know because we’ve been there, done that…numerous times!
If you find it hard to answer the following questions, read on because we have a simple solution that can help.
Which parts of your marketing are making you money, and which components aren’t making you money?
Where exactly in your sales process is a sales rep not performing?
Which keywords in AdWords are generating leads, and which keywords aren’t?
How many leads did you get from that email campaign last week?
Most business owners end up making decisions on gut feel because they don’t have access to the data/information needed to make educated decisions. It’s time for that to change.
What if we told you there was a simple solution that would give you the information you need to make the right decisions – informed decisions – that can help you grow your business without employing extra resources or laying out extra budget?
Well there is. It’s called Business Intelligence (BI).
It’s a term that gets bandied around a lot and if you’re not familiar with it, you should be – no matter what sized business you own.
In a nutshell:
- BI translates data into insights
- BI helps you make better business decisions and get better outcomes
- BI is essential for business growth for small and large businesses
- BI is simply the act of capturing and analysing business data
- BI can be achieved with our 9-Step Framework (keep reading to find out how!)
Sounds good, right? But what does Business Intelligence really mean and how can it help small and medium-sized businesses grow?
Translate Data into Insights
Business Intelligence is the process of tracking, processing and analysing data from 3 core levels of your business (individual, departmental, the business as a whole) so that you can make better decisions and get better outcomes. It helps keeps people accountable and lets you know how effectively every person, asset and process is contributing to your business revenue.
At its most simple level, it will answer questions like which marketing initiative is helping you make money and which are producing junk leads and wasting your time? At a more granular level, it can help solve why Jim only did 4 sales yesterday, whilst Mary did 10? And why you only convert 5 AdWords enquiries from 52 good leads last month – where is the process breaking down?
The good news is, despite what the name suggests, business intelligence doesn’t have to be a complicated process involving pricey or intricate systems. It’s all about accessing, capturing and using your business data efficiently and effectively – you’d be surprised at how many businesses aren’t doing it right or aren’t doing it at all!
The 9 Steps to a Successful Business Intelligence Framework that will stop you making decisions on gut instinct.
We’ve developed a Framework to help get your Business Intelligence and your business on track for growth.
Let’s Define the Targets, Objectives & Goals for your Business
As a business owner, you will need to start asking questions to help understand what your objectives and targets are. Start with what are you trying to achieve across the board:
- What are the overall business goals?
- What are the overall business objectives?
- What are each departments’ objectives and goals?
What are your Business KPIs?
From your targets and objectives, you need to establish some clear KPI’s so you can easily and quickly see if you are on track. This is particularly important for departments and individuals to be able to self-assess and to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of where the business is headed and what targets need to be met.
Now Determine your Reporting Requirements
What information do you need to report on for your business? Your reporting frameworks allow you to determine the information you need as a business owner.
To put it in place, you need to ask yourself questions such as:
- What outcomes do I need to measure?
- What’s the pipeline my business manages that begins at first contact with a potential client and ends with them taking out their wallet?
- How effective is each channel in helping me make first contact with potential clients?
- Which of my business units require what information?
- What do I need to see on an individual level?
What are you currently reporting on?
Make a list of all the areas you are currently reporting on to determine the gaps.
Let’s Determine your Data Capture Requirements
Once you’ve set guidelines for what you want to report on, you’re ready to put in place systems that let you easily capture the information you’re after. What systems do you need to gather your information?
This may include data you capture from the following areas:
- Digital Marketing: AdWords, Google Analytics, Social, Email
- Offline Marketing: Materials, Inbound phone tracking*
- Sales and Service: CRM and POS, Sales data, Individual data, Business unit data, Pipeline management data, Conversion rates, Customer contact (foot traffic, inbound enquiries)
- Financial: Revenue, Costs, Transactions
* Not all of these will be relevant or necessary for every business, but we should say that inbound phone tracking is an exceptional way of obtaining vital insights very easily. Every business on the planet should have this set up.
Ensure your Data Integrity: Ensuring the data is clean and accurate
For you to be able to use data effectively, you need to make sure that the data you are recording is clean and accurate. This starts at the source. Manual data entry can result in errors that compromise results meant to guide business decisions. That’s why it is crucial that personnel with access are appropriately trained on data entry protocols.
Things to consider on data integrity:
- Digital data capture is free to spam, robots and internal traffic
- Staff are trained, managed and understand how important capturing the right data is.
- Auditing processes should be put into place so that individuals can be held accountable for any inaccurate data entered into the system.
- Protecting information from accidental variation and ensuring security and data quality assurance is a key requirement for accurate analytics.
Let’s Talk Data Integration: How to pull everything together
To ensure we generate reports effectively and efficiently we want to bring all the main data together to allow for easy generation of reports and dashboards. So, we want to create a centralised area of data so that with the press of a button, we get the reports we want.
Your Business Intelligence: Let’s generate the reporting requirements so you have access to the RIGHT information
Look at the following components and establish what systems you need for each report. Will you use excel? Which CRM system will you use? It’s also important to establish the timing of each report and the personnel who will be responsible for compiling these reports. Break it down like this;
Daily reporting: Primarily about activity
These reports should answer questions like:
- How many phone calls did the sales reps make?
- How many people walked through our doors?
- How many sales did we make?
Weekly reporting: Are we on track?
These reports should answer broader questions like:
- What did we achieve last week?
- What do we need to do this week?
- Are results on track?
- What’s working well?
- What’s not working well?
Monthly reporting: The devil is in the detail
These reports are much more comprehensive and granular. They cover:
- Revenue and sales
- Marketing stats
- Conversion rates
- Results by product, location, department, person, unit, etc
Dashboards: Real-time view of KPIs versus targets
The final piece to the puzzle is setting up dashboards so you can see quickly and easily the KPIs across your business and quickly identify:
- Are we on track?
- Where things are going astray
- Indications and forecasts
Business Intelligence – is it really worth it?
Absolutely! The answer is most definitely yes! The telltale sign is if you ever find yourself in a quiet moment reflecting on any of the following predicaments, you know you need to start thinking about Business Intelligence;
- I know something isn’t working, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is
- I know this isn’t working, but I don’t have the data to clearly show
- You have little confidence in the important business information at your disposal
- You’re using Excel spreadsheets for all your reporting and decision making
- I have little confidence in some of the information your systems are spitting out
- You and your team are regularly re-entering data into several systems
- Your business spends time reconciling data from different sources
- Someone in your team is wasting their time and expertise generating reports
- Different parts of your business use different data to make decisions
- You go out of your way to work around the system instead of changing your system to work around the information you need
The bottom line is if you can trust business intelligence to give you something valuable – an actual insight that you can act upon and that can make a difference to your business. Once you get meaningful answers to these sorts of questions and once you harness the logic of what your data is telling you, you can begin to see opportunities. These opportunities to make changes are guided by definite knowledge, not by incomplete information, guesswork or hunches.
Navigate your way to business growth.
If you’re ready to grow your business, you’ve come to the right place. Due North is a specialist agency dedicated to helping small businesses grow. We help business owners understand and effectively manage their data, and provide a Business Intelligence audit, review and recommendations. Best of all, we have proven ability to provide better short and long-term business outcomes for the business owners we work with.