There’s so much data out there: numbers and statistics, everyone says you have to use but where do you start? Data doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating and not every business needs big data. But if you’re in charge of an SME and wondering how to stay ahead of the curve then data can still be useful to you, as long as you stop looking at the big data that everyone’s been talking about and take heed of the small data – much of which you already have. There’s plenty of data for all companies, large and small, to benefit from as Tim Phillips demonstrates in his new book, Data-driven business: Use real-life numbers to improve your business by 352% anyone can get access to it. Data doesn’t have to be BIG but it has to be CORRECT.
Many of us shy away from statistics, but trusting our gut can lead to fight or flight decisions. This is great if you’re being chased by a bear but really instinct can only take you so far in business. Successful companies may begin with a gut feeling, but are sustained by using data creatively and correctly. Data is your friend, not your enemy. Data is not the bear, it is the key to being better than the competition.
You don’t have to be Google to benefit from data. They may have a better R&D department than you but small businesses are more nimble and it’s much easier to act quickly. Data can be used to benefit businesses that are small fry in comparison. Not every business will grow to rival Google, but Phillips suggests that by adapting your business strategy to incorporate data of existing trends, organizations can succeed in whichever market they are in.
Data-driven business is full of tips on how to source the right data for your company, and how to use it to the greatest advantage, as well as warning about the pitfalls that are all too present. In his reader-friendly and entertaining book, Phillips shows:
•• How best to source data. Data is everywhere, like we’ve said, but how do you collate it and which data can best benefit your organization? Phillips shows how even small businesses can source and interpret data to improve strategy, more often than not, Phillips points out, the data is already there and you didn’t even know it.
•• Why you need to plan for the worst. Making decisions that will affect your business is risky and potentially fatal to the future of the company. Phillips suggests, however, that numbers can sway us in different directions and that one should conduct a ‘premortem’ assessing any risks that may occur before leaping into the unknown.
•• Six reasons not to trust your gut. Phillips points out that ‘40% of major decisions are based on a manager’s gut feel’ but that this is often the wrong way to build a strategy. Gut feel is about the past and strategy is all about the future, which is where data can help you out.
Your business may have been dragging its heels along, keeping afloat but not going anywhere. Essentially, it’s flying economy with the tourists. Phillips invites you to get on board with his first-class data and you may find yourself upgraded to Business Class!
Tim Phillips has been a freelance journalist since 1990, writing about business, technology, social change and innovation. He has written for many major newspapers and has been technology and internet columnist for the Guardian. Tim is the author of a dozen books, including Beat the oddsand Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince.