Successful Entrepreneurs Know Data Rules

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data“Data is valuable!” “Capture the data!” “Monetize the data!” “Don’t share the data!” We’ve all been told to collect as much data as we can, and we’ve complied. But what what do we do, now that we are up to our eyeballs in data? After all, even a small store can successfully track a million metrics. So, how do we proceed, and where do we get the time?

Related: Data Crunch: 5 Analysis Tools for Small Businesses

Is data (or a dashboard) really valuable if we can’t easily use it to make crucial business decisions and take action?

Certainly, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by charts, numbers and business acronyms on dashboards. And certainly most business owners are not data scientists and would rather do anything than dedicate precious time to learning about data analysis. That’s why most of us push the task to the end of our massive to-do list.

But we don’t have to feel overwhelmed. A preliminary, ideal solution, for example, is a “plug and play” data-analytics dashboard to simplify all that data. Here are four things to keep in mind when choosing a platform to track yours:

     Compatibility with other tools. These might include your ecommerce store, your POS or other tools and apps, like shopping carts, social media and website analytics.

     Ease of use: The data should be presented in a way that is uncluttered, understandable and easy to take in. Can you set targets and chart your progress?

     Insight: Will you have access to trends? Comparable benchmarks to learn from and use to track your success? Strategy recommendations based on your own numbers?

     Action: Does the dashboard allow you to create and/or directly take action based on the data you have collected? Does it save you time and help you achieve your goals?

With only a limited amount of time to devote to this activity each day, you should ensure that your dashboard highlights the key metrics that matter the most. This will let you zero in on only the most important things you can do to grow your business. Here are three things to look for:

1. Past customers are your key to profits.

Armed with newfound data on revenues, orders, best-selling items, etc., you may feel a desire to rush out and find new and exciting customers. But you should instead focus your energies on your existing customers, as this will give you the best impact on your bottom line. In data-speak, this is known as your “repeat customer rate” (the percentage of your customers who have purchased previously).

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