The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
1. Try Out a Contract Basis
For most businesses, hiring a data specialist full-time is probably too much investment in the skill set, but having a data specialist engage occasionally on a contract basis can be ideal. Whether you’re looking to reduce inefficiencies by raking through your data to uncover problems, or looking for someone to use your internal data to create PR-worthy infographics, the skill set can be useful.
– Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
2. It Depends on the Business
If you’re dealing with a lot of data — say, tons of information on buy processes from your customers — a specialist is going to be able to help you make the most of it. But while the number of data-intensive businesses has dramatically risen in the past decade or so, the reality is that most businesses don’t need a full-time data specialist, especially when you’re just out of the gate.
– Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
3. It’s Already in the Job Description
Depending on the business, a employee designated to being a data specialist might not be the best investment. I try to hire employees that are capable of tracking their own data and making better decisions by using that data.
– John Hall, Digital Talent Agents
4. Do They Provide A Positive ROI?
A data specialist is worthwhile only if you truly believe it would provide a positive ROI. If you’re running a small business, there are plenty of tools that can provide free, detailed and laid-out data, such as Google Analytics for websites, which can easily and quickly be analyzed.
– Nicolas Gremion, Foboko.com
5. Consider Other Options First
It depends on the business, but overall, I would say no. With so many SaaS and cloud-type infrastructures becoming mainstream, small businesses can utilize those avenues more cheaply and more quickly than hiring an employee to help with the workload.
– Jordan Guernsey, Molding Box
6. Do Your Own Data!
As a small business owner, you know your business better than anyone. In the early stages, learn to analyze your own data. You’ll be able draw correlations that a data specialist couldn’t because they don’t know the ins and outs of the business, such as customer behavior, psychological factors, industry expertise, etc. Data only gives you half the story — the real value is turning that data into something actionable.
– Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep
7. Can Your Company Execute?
If data is actively collected throughout the life of a company, a data specialist may provide great optimization insights later down the road. For many startups, however, this isn’t a great investment unless you have the bandwidth to execute on their recommendations. The analysis will be work that is not “business as usual” and will have to find its way into the workload.
– Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
8. Short Answer — No!
Few small businesses have the budget or the need for a data analyst, so my short answer is no. For a small business, hiring a full-time data analyst is unlikely to be a good investment. However, the success of your business is in the details. My best advice is to hire smart, versatile people who can keep an eye on the data using analysis tools to track trends and marketing ROI to determine what works and abandon what doesn’t as part of their normal responsibilities. A well-developed business system with checkpoints can ensure that everything gets done without the need for pricey specialists.
– Nick Reese, Microbrand Media
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