Running a business in the 21st century can often be a daunting task. In order to beat your competition and come out on top, it is not enough to provide a decent product or service. You also need to understand your customers and present your business in a thoughtful, well-formulated manner. Ideally, you should also predict customer needs and address them in a timely fashion. So, how are you supposed to read your customers’ minds and give them what they want, when they want it? Well, you can’t, but you can come pretty close if you manage to properly collect data for your small business. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what data collection is all about.
Collect data for your small business – beginner guide
As we live in the information age, there is an abundance of data all around us. As a small business owner, your first goal is to identify the data relevant to your business goals, and then find an efficient way to collect it. You also need to ensure the safety of your data and gain the necessary knowledge from it. To make this task easier, we’ve separated data collection for a small business into four steps.
Step 1: Goal identification
Why are you collecting data? Although it might seem redundant, you really do need to ask yourself this question. Keep in mind that the main problem you will face will not be finding data but filtering it. Therefore, you need to understand why you are collecting data and how you will use it. The best way to figure this out is to give yourself a business goal. Saying that you want to make your business better won’t do you much good with data collection. Instead, you need to outline a clear plan.
- Boosting your SEO results.
- Engaging the local market.
- Coming up with a new product to offer to your customers.
- Boosting social media marketing.
These goals are something you can research and outline specific steps. By doing so, you will have a clear idea of which data is necessary and how to utilize it. The more clearly you can outline each step towards your goal, the easier it will be to collect data and use it properly.
Step 2: Finding the right tools
As you might have guessed, data collection is not something you do with a pen and paper. In order to be efficient in it, you need to utilize the right tools. Luckily, there are numerous tools to choose from, each better suited for a specific kind of data. So, to help you find the tool best suited for your business goals, here are some to consider:
- Forms on Fire – If you are just starting out with data collection, we suggest that you use Forms on Fire. It is an intuitive, easy to learn software that covers the basics of most data collection. With around 750 different integrations, you will probably find the right way to gather data and interpret it.
- GoSpotCheck – Some businesses require multiple people to have access to data in order to come up with a business solution. If this is the case with your business, then you ought to use GoSpotCheck. It is mobile-friendly, group-oriented, and well equipped. With it, you can gather the necessary data and easily share it with the rest of your team.
- CRM software – In certain instances, it is far more important to collect data from your customers than from market statistics. If each client is important to you, and you want to find ways to retain them, then you are looking for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. Keeping tabs on your customers in real-time can be difficult, with a ton of data going back and forth. This is especially true for transportation and moving companies where vital information can quickly and drastically change, and a CRM system that helps collect such data is invaluable. There are many CRM options out there, so make sure to find the one that suits your business the most.
Step 3: Safety is always a priority
Even though the internet gives us many luxuries, data safety is not one of them. It is extremely important that you keep your data safe. Data leaks can not only help your competitors but also ruin your business endeavors. So try to apply encryption, implement a strict safety policy, and add two-factor identification. The better you can control your privacy, the less you’ll have to worry about safety breaches and malware attacks.
Step 4: Learn and adapt
As it is with most things in running a business, you cannot expect to be 100% successful from the get-go. Your first attempt at collecting data for a small business will probably be inefficient, mistake-ridden, and ill-planned, and that’s OK. Keep in mind that it takes time for people to learn how to gather valuable data and use it properly. The more you implement data collection, the better you will be at finding valuable data, utilizing it efficiently, and even following the latest technology trends.
If you do gather enough data for a business solution and decide to implement it, we suggest that you check on your progress within the first two weeks. No single small business endeavor should be so complicated that you cannot witness its improvement within that period. And, as it turns out, figuring out why your enterprise isn’t working properly is also a form of data collection.
Final thoughts on collecting data for small business
To sum up, you don’t need to struggle much in order to collect data for your small business. Once you find the right tools and get the idea of which data is useful, you might even come to enjoy it. Just remember to give yourself time and learn from your competitors. Whatever business goal you have in mind, someone else has most likely attempted it, so you might spare yourself from a lot of trouble by doing a bit of research.
Aaron Collins has worked as a business developer and SEO manager for over 20 years. Now he focuses on writing helpful articles about business management, most of which are focused on online presence.