Running a business is never easy. Between dealing with customers, competitors, partners, and vendors it becomes difficult to strategize effectively. Sure, being busy might make you feel productive, but there is a fine line between busy work and worthwhile work. Fortunately, the problem can be solved by harnessing the power of big data so you can analyze the marketplace around you with ease.
We talked about what big data, aka Business Intelligence, is in the first article of this series and how valuable it can be to your business. We also mentioned that you shouldn’t let the term intimidate you. Although “big data” used to be only for enterprise corporations, today there are numerous tools that let companies of all sizes use analysis to make more informed businesses decisions.
SizeUp is a company which literally allows you to size up your company against competitors and partners with only a few clicks. Simply enter your industry and location and SizeUp will let you map out competitors and partners. Additionally color overlays show figures such as average revenue, average employee turnover, average revenue per capita and more as they relate to your location. Other helpful features of SizeUp include salary, health insurance premium and worker’s compensation valuators which can help to determine if you are paying more than necessary for either of those services.
Once you finish evaluating your company, SizeUp provides an excellent advertising lead evaluation tool which allows you to filter communities by numerous metrics such as: household income, total revenue, most under served markets, and more in just a matter of a few clicks. These results can be viewed in both a list or on a map, with the additional option to search for potential leads. Although the data is currently limited to larger cities and regions, SizeUp still provides valuable insights as today lots of business can be done over the internet.
Before implementing a business intelligence campaign it is important to evaluate if you getting enough out of your networking and cold calls. By utilizing a contact relationship management platform (CRM) you can track leads from all stages of the sales pipe – meetings, calls, support requests, purchase history and more can all be monitored from a central location with ease. Although CRMs had their beginnings in enterprises, today the technology has become common enough that even solopreneurs can afford to integrate such systems into their workflow. While there are a wide array of platforms on the market, one of the best platforms for users who want a simple yet powerful suite is Zoho CRM. Another well respected CRM platform is SugarCRM which one ups Zoho in that you can install it on your own server and not pay monthly fees (unless you need one of the higher tier packages). SugarCRM also offers hosted packages however Zoho holds the advantage in terms of simplicity and ease of use.
The reality is that information that was once only available to large enterprises is now available for even the smallest of companies to harvest and use to their advantage. Just make sure that you understand the information you are looking at and that it has a value to you.