Business strategy starts with questions

I talk to a lot of people about data, and when I ask them why they’re not looking at their data and using it to make decisions and inform their business strategy, I hear frustration and confusion.

  • “How do I start?”
  • “I have so much data I don’t know what to look at first.”
  • “I can’t do machine learning/multivariate regression/Big Data, so why even bother?”
  • “I want to, but I just don’t have the time.”
  • “I’m not a stats whiz, so I’m just going to mess things up.”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by numbers, and by the amount of data you may have at your disposal in your CRM or HRIS or your online point-of-sale system, and then end up doing nothing with it. But this means that you’re not taking advantage of a valuable asset: your data. You have data about customers, about products, about sales. You have data that can tell you about purchasing trends, and about what products are bought together. You have a lot more data than you realize, and it’s a valuable tool to boost revenue and reach your business goals.

Business Strategy’s Secret Weapon: Your Data

Over the next few weeks I’m going to lay out a step-by-step process to galvanize you into diving into your data and help you create a business strategy that includes your data. Because at the end of the day, you’re running a business, not pursuing a hobby. (Though some have made a business out of their hobby….) We need to have a handle on our numbers, on which marketing campaigns are working, on whether we’re gaining new customers only to lose them a month from now, and more.

Don’t Look At Your Data

We’ll start this week by staying far away from any numbers.

You read that right. I want you to not look at your data. Don’t peek at your dashboards, don’t call to mind your KPIs or your quarterly sales figures. Nothing. No numbers. Numbers are verboten this week.

List Your Questions

Now, think about what the burning questions are in your business. What is it that you really want to know? Are there things that have been bugging you, that you can’t seem to answer? Does something just not look right? Why is X happening when you expected Y?

Your questions are going to be your compass, your North Star. You’re going to return to your questions again and again as you dive into your data. And it’s your questions that are going to keep you from going off on tangents.

Write them down, in no particular order, and save them for next week, when we’ll pick up with Step 2.

Interested in the next steps to take? Check out these blog posts, where I go into more detail:

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