For many established, and especially long standing small businesses, owners find it difficult to change the way “things” have been done. From seemingly trivial decisions as arranging furniture to important aspects (logistics, bookkeeping, POS, etc.) of business, we are inclined to keep what is in place- reflected by the common saying, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While there is some truth to this common idea, small businesses can no longer neglect how rapidly today’s market environment changes. Complacency not only reduces competitiveness (as new and existing competitors continue to innovate) but more importantly, takes away important opportunities for small businesses to grow.
One particular development worthy of recognition is the power of analytics. Although most small businesses now fully acknowledge the benefits and importance of websites and social media, only few sophisticated owners know about the power of analytics. With widely accessible and low cost methods to accurately monitor one’s business (apps such as Expensify, Cloud platforms, and web analytics), small companies need to invest systematic effort to improve analyzing their own businesses. Why is this so crucial?
Increasing competition from large corporation franchises, young and ambitious start-ups, and even international companies, is the primary reason. Generally speaking, all of these entities are fully equipped with the most cutting edge platforms (full ERP systems, Cloud technologies, Web Advertisement analytics etc.) to collect and analyze the most detailed data about all facets of their businesses. Analytics allows managers to pinpoint and understand their businesses in more detail and promptly respond to issues and opportunities: Punctual inventory and supply chain systems cut down costs and prevent shortages, up to date customer relation management systems provide insight to service problems and opportunities for improvement, and website analytics offer a window into customer demand patterns.
I understand that investing analytics is a daunting process- often psychological and logistical. Thus, I suggest that small businesses with websites (hopefully all those reading this article would have one), start out with Google Analytics, if not already doing so. It’s free, easy to implement, and the learning curve is not very steep. By understanding where and when online traffic is coming from, which pages are more viewed, small business owners can at least begin to see the hidden dynamics of consumer insight. Internal analytics such as appropriate accounting management systems are also imperative to success and should be researched as soon as possible. Knowing more about one’s business, customers, and market environment will always lead to positive outcomes- especially in today’s Information Age.
By: Charles Barr
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