Starting a business is as daunting as it is exciting, but even if you follow every start-up checklist that you can find, you can still be left behind your competition if you don’t make the most of every available tool.
One of the most powerful tools that’s driving business decisions across the globe is Big Data, but as a small business, it can be tough to figure out how best to apply Big Data to your needs.
So, where’s the value in Big Data for small businesses?
Understand Your Customer
While big companies are investing heavily in buying and creating data systems, a surprising amount of information that can benefit your business is freely available online — and that can give you critical insight into your customers’ lives.
Building a better understanding of your customer is a huge advantage for smaller businesses. Data on their age, spending habits, income, and location allows you to target your marketing and products to people who you know have an interest in your product.
A prime example would be the types of social media adverts that allow you to select a niche market for each piece of business communication you release. That is Big Data in action.
Consider a company that sells vintage timetables. They may cater to two customers: seniors that grew up listening to vinyl records and millennials that have surprisingly developed a taste for them. A company like Vinyl Vintage would need to collect different data on each demographic to drive their marketing strategy.
Keep an eye out for research findings and free tools that allow you to peer into the mind of prospective customers.
Better Business Decisions
Every small business owner will tell you that you need as much information as possible to make the right decision for your business.
Small businesses, in particular, have to be strategic around everything from choosing an affordable working space to marketing choices — and again, this is where Big Data can add value.
Think about choosing an office. Big Data can tell you what areas are most affordable per foot and also predict the investment in the area, give you insight into traffic around the building, and pull reviews of the neighborhood from social media.
But it is more powerful than that. The right product can help you adjust pricing based on global economic patterns, or help you decide between using red or green in your logo.
The volume of information out there, along with free analytics tools, mean you can get critical business advice before making those big decisions.
A Faster Operation
Sifting through your year’s sales figures used to take ages, but with Big Data and the right software, you can get an overview of your finances in an instant.
Similarly, you don’t need to spend hours deciding on whether to go for a minimalist website or creating a content hub. There’s UX data out there showing that a simple website is simply the best.
And if you can afford it, a chat bot built using data from your average web user can drastically reduce the time you spend dealing with queries and complaints on social media.
Wherever Big Data is applied, it speeds up your operation by freeing up you and your team to do what you do best instead of having to deal with admin tasks that you could automate.
Refresh Your Existing Assets
Small businesses are always looking for innovative ways to break out and become more stable.
iContact recently posted a very insightful infographic on the best free strategies to market your business. They are more scalable and effective in the era of big data, since brands know how to find more customers and score their leads better.
In the past, this would mean asking investors for the capital needed to refine and redefine the brand from the beginning — a costly and often pointless exercise.
With Big Data, you can access information that can help you continually improve the assets you have instead of starting from nothing.
Whether it’s tips around revitalizing your blog content or advice on how to reduce your overheads by hiring freelancers, data is a great way to get the most out of what you already have.
And because of its predictive power, you can use information to make sure you are the best now, and in the future.
Analyze, Plan, Repeat
While you may not be able to invest millions in building your own Artificial Intelligence algorithm or financial forecasting software, your business can benefit from Big Data without breaking the bank.
Information is freely available and is just waiting to help you succeed.
Use this information to understand where you are, plan your next move, and get into a cycle of constant optimization, and you will unlock the full value that Big Data can bring to your business.