Small Business Should Invest in Big Data and Analytics

Big data refers to huge volumes of structured and unstructured data; however, processing such massive volumes of data via traditional data management tools is inefficient and impossible. To understand big data you have to realize the devices that are collecting it today e.g. bar code scanners, mobile cameras, CCTV cameras, motion sensors, smoke alarms, web analytical tools, CRMs, etc. From the examples, you can see that these devices collect a vast array of data types hence the structured and unstructured part in the definition. The sheer velocity at which the data is being produced cannot be controlled and processed using traditional methods and tools.

However, the use of big data and incorporation of big data analytical technology gives businesses the competitive edge over their competitors.

Big Data and Small Businesses

It is only a thing of the past when terms like big data and business intelligence were associated with large enterprises only. Today, small businesses have to leverage the data they are collecting in order to remain a part of the competition. For years, cost has remained the main reason why small businesses did not adopt big data analytical technologies, but this has changed now. There are budget-friendly tools available for small businesses to take advantage of the data they are collecting today. According to some experts, small businesses can take better advantage of big data since they are able to make the necessary changes far more quickly than large enterprises i.e. real-time response to insights from available data.

According to an IDG study in 2016, 78% of the large enterprises agree that big data strategy has the power to change how businesses have always operated. This shows the acceptance of big data technology and strategies for large enterprises and strengthens the fact that small businesses could become irrelevant if they did not adopt the same strategies.

Benefits of Large Data Analytics

Large Data and Big Companies, a report by IIA Director of Research, Tom Davenport, reveals that businesses are benefitting greatly from big data analytics especially in improving their products, making business decisions faster and reducing costs. Here are some ways small businesses can benefit from big data.

• Cost Savings

The upfront cost of implementing large data tools and strategies is high undoubtedly, but the long term benefits of doing so are matchless. The healthcare industry is a great example of how the use of large data can help businesses reduce their costs regardless of their size. Using predictive analytics, Medicare and Medicaid Services forestalled more than $210 million fraud in healthcare with just 2 years of utilizing the aforementioned technology.

In addition to preventing frauds, small businesses can also reduce their costs by steering clear of creating more inventory than needed, including better partners in the supply chain, etc.

• Improved Decision Making

This is the biggest benefit of large data. It allows businesses to expedite decision making by processing the data fast and giving insights in timely manner. In the past, business decisions were reserved for future strategies in the light of available data and the trends that were observed in it. The amount of data that businesses are sitting on today is huge and thus more powerful insights are to be gained from it.

This vast amount of data requires the use of modern big data hardware technologies. Once both the things are in place for a business, they can understand customers better, create products that are a closer reflection of what customers want and develop a brand based on most reverenced values.

• Impenetrable Security

Businesses are more focused today on using large data to improve their core capabilities, but less attended to a more serious concerns i.e. cyber threats and security breaches. Almost every small, medium and large business is connected to the internet today. Moreover, the Internet of Things has broadened the attackable security surface for businesses making it easier for cyber criminals to attack networks and penetrate company databases.

The biggest concern for modern businesses is that they have to “respond” to cyber attacks that have already occurred rather than being able to prevent them from occurring. The use of big data and big data analytical tools can be a game changer in this area allowing businesses to prevent any security attacks way before they are executed.

Key Technologies Helping Businesses Make the Best of Big Data

As a small business, you will have to familiarize with various technologies that help you store, analyze and take action on big data. Here are some important ones:

• Hadoop

It’s a framework supporting the storing of large amounts of data using an open-source approach. Once data is stored, Hadoop enables the use of a variety of applications using “clustered hardware” at its base. Due to the cluster of commodity hardware, it becomes possible and easy for businesses to process big data despite its increasing volume.

• Data Mining

This is the technology that enables business owners to capture insights, patterns and trends from big data that otherwise cannot be obtained with a traditional approach. Data mining is what allows you to jump in a large sea of structured and unstructured data, make sense of it all and produce analytical insights that help businesses with real-time and future decisions.

• Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics walk side by side with data mining. Artificial is at the heart of predictive analytics, enabling business owners to adjust their present strategies by giving predictions about what will transpire for the business based on existing data.

• Text Analysis and Mining

One huge concern for modern business is to analyze the noise on various web platforms such as forums, blogs, social networks, etc. to understand what customers expect from a particular brand. Finding out about brand mentions and understanding customer’s impression of your brand can help you readjust your marketing approach to gain customer loyalty. Text mining helps small to large sized businesses go through text data from emails, blog posts, social networks, etc. and hear customers “voice”.

With the rise of smartphones, artificial intelligence and IoT (internet of things) it has become clearly visible that businesses will now have to handle mountains and mountains of data, and make use of big data analytical and processing technologies to have the competitive edge.

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Developing A Business Startup Success Strategies That Work

It can be easy to lose sight of the very reasons why you wanted to open your business startup. You can get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations, leaving little time to focus on what makes your business startup standout in the market. Having a strategy in place that allows you to keep you motivated can ensure your business stays on a path of success.

Fall In Love With Your Business

Any business that you invest your heart in soul in should be the great love of your life. You need to nurture it and watch it grow. Having a real passion for what you are doing and the products and services you sell can make your business startup a real labor of love. You should have a real hunger that drives you to do well. Making your business startup idea one that you can stand behind and love to eternity is the first step in achieving success.

If it seems that you are losing that connection with your company and not really feeling the love, take a step back and allow yourself to remember how it all started. This can spark your emotions for your business and allow you to fall back in love with what you are doing. Your passion for your business is often times enough to get you through the challenging times.

Surround Yourself With Good People

From your employees to your professional network, the people that you surround yourself with can have a strong influence on your business startup. These very people can give you new ideas and help educate you on your business’ operations.

Having positive people to lift you up can be a strong motivator and allow you to have someone to bounce thoughts off of when you feel uncertain about a decision. Use your network to gain valuable information and learn from your peers on what mistakes to avoid. They can prove to be a big part of helping you run your business and ensuring it is successful in its endeavors.

Don’t forget your employees; they can be a big part of keeping your focused on your business startup on a daily basis. Good employees will drive your customer service and in turn your revenue. When your employees believe in your business and the vision you have set for it, it makes it that much more important that you deliver now and into the future.

Create A Marketing Strategy

Having a marketing strategy in place to promote your business is necessary to help achieve strong revenues. You should have prepped and planned a strategy that you want to adhere to market your business startup to your customers. It doesn’t have to be a large portion of your budget, but it should include some effort on your part.

Think about where your customers go for their information. Be visible to them and make sure you use every opportunity that is available to you to market your business with both new and existing customers. Try social media, check into local advertising, hold and an event, and use what is available to you to reach your customers and introduce your business’ products and services to the masses.

If you stay aggressive with your marketing plan, you are sure to garner the attention of your current customer base as well as a new group of potential clients. This can bring in more revenue and keep your business startup on a path of success.

Get To Know Your Customers

It is your responsibility as a business startup owner to know everything there is to know about your customers. You should have a strong idea of who they are, what their likes are, and where they are located. When you truly understand your customers, the more effectively you can serve them with your products and services.

While your attention may be turned toward gaining new customers, don’t lose sight of your current clients. They are the bread and butter of your business, and you want to make sure you are not replacing existing customers with new customers at a losing pace. Show your loyal customers how much you appreciate their business. Without them, your business will only see marginal success, and you want to make sure to grow your business startup rather than be stagnate in its approach.

Take Time For You

It may be difficult to imagine, but you need time away from your business startup. You may think that you can’t take time away or that your momentum will crumple without you, but taking a vacation every now and then is one of the best things you can do for your company. When you step away for a moment, you allow yourself the opportunity to recharge and refresh. You’ll be able to see your business in a new light and be surging with motivation when you return.

You’ll be surprised at how much a vacation from your business startup can do for you. You’ll be filled with new ideas and solutions to problems that you previously thought unsolvable. Being able to see your business from a new angle can be just what you need to take it in a new direction, move it forward, or reach to new heights. Your business startup will appreciate the time you took, and you will be ready to take on new challenges with a fury as your drive will be restored and you will feel anew.

Plus, you have good people surrounding you that you can trust to steer the ship when you are away. Rely on your employees and allow them to do what you hired them to do. You’ll be pleasantly pleased with how quick they are to pick up the slack when you are away and the positive results you’ll see upon your return.

Having a strategy in place can ensure your business stays on track and experiences great success now and into the future. It is important to stay focused, think about your customers, and take a break when you need it. By embracing your business startup and trusting in yourself, your business will reach the success that you deserve and have always envisioned.

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Expansion Pitfalls All Small Businesses Must Avoid

A great number of small business owners have a constant urge to expand. Of course, the mere idea of expanding and becoming a “big” business known to thousands and millions of people is fascinating. However, expansion is not all about finding a new office space and hiring new employees to fill the vacant seats.

There is much more to expansion than most small business owners realize. It is unfortunate that a larger population of these business owners is only focused on the benefits of expanding while completely omitting the challenges that entail business expansion. Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges, concerns and considerations before you expand your small business.

Major Pitfalls to Avoid before Expanding a Small Business

Outdated Information of Market Conditions
Too often, the decision to expand taken by most small business owners is based on information that is many months old. The important thing to consider here is continuous market research. An idea that seemed like it will lead the market a few months ago might be an average offering today.
For example, you might have landed in the market with a unique product, and its sudden popularity might make you think you should expand as soon as possible. What you don’t realize is that the acceptance and popularity rate of your product can diminish with time. The big reason behind that is the competitors who can imitate anything that you have created.

It does not matter if you have patented the technology, method or the product itself before launching it. Your competitors will always find some way to imitate and emulate your products. A great example of this is Apple, the tech giant that patented the touchscreen technology. You can see there are more non-Apple touchscreen smartphones in the world today than Apple’s own iPhone.

Regional Limitations
When you are expanding your business into new territories, you must know them well. You cannot expect people to react to your offerings, marketing methods, advertising tactics in the same way everywhere. In fact, cultural considerations are an extremely important consideration when businesses are expanding.
You don’t have to be expanding to a completely new country to consider culture. There are many things that people in one state might love and people in another state completely hate.

These considerations have to be made based on the type of business you have. If your business has some cultural dependencies, you have to be very careful with where you are thinking of expanding your business operations.

Cash Flow Challenges
You need to be on top of your cash flow before you expand. Cash flow is important for any business, but it is essential when it comes time for expansion. It does not matter how much money you are expecting to come into the business after making the expansion move; it is going to require a lot of money upfront too.
This is the time when you have to stop thinking about the revenue and start focusing on your income. Your revenue does not tell you how feasible it is for you to expand your business. It is the money that you can use without affecting your current operations that matter in the expansion.

Look at your profits and see how big they are. If your profits are small, don’t just assume that things will be fine and you should just make a move. You don’t want to create a situation where not only you fail with expansion but affect your existing operations as well.

Technological Issues
The way modern businesses operate, technology goes wherever your business goes. Many small business owners think of expansion only regarding new office space, furniture, and new employees, but that’s not the case. Today’s businesses rely heavily on technologies, both hardware, and software. When your business expands, you have to support it with better hardware but what’s more important is the software side.
Unless you are using a cloud solution for your database and other internal tasks and activities, you will have to spend a lot of time in arranging the right system. Syncing information across multiple locations and managing bigger databases with more accounts and information can be a challenge in the beginning.

Overestimating Business Popularity
Some businesses that start with a unique idea and get attention from media fast are able to reap great benefits from sudden demand spikes. This situation often makes business owners feel that they should expand as soon as possible. What they don’t realize is that this is only the “trial” period for customers in their minds.
Even if they like your product, in the beginning, it does not mean they have put full trust in your offerings. A onetime purchase does not translate to loyal customers and repetitive purchases. You might have received a great response from customers when you started the business but wait for some time to know if your customers have started to repeat.

It is only the number of repeat customers that can tell you if your product/service has been a success. It could be a nightmare for you if you start getting negative reviews from your first customers as soon as you expand into new markets and locations. You could end up creating too much inventory that no one is willing to buy.

Underestimating Growth of Employees
While a lot of things get overestimated by new business owners before expansion, there are some things that they underestimate. Sometimes, business owners are not able to fully foresee their growth regarding employees.
They arrange new space to continue business operations in a new location without realizing that the growing number of employees will force them to expand their office space again. Not only is it inefficient but it could lead to a lot of hassle for the working employees if the expansion of office space takes place while they are working there.

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Hiring a Business Coach That Facilitates Substantial Growth

Running any business alone can be self-fulfilling for every entrepreneur but equally as tough and impossible to successfully manage. With this in mind, hiring a business coach is always a smart move because the opinion of an expert enables and facilitates businesses to reach their full potential. The business coaching industry in the US has grown in recent decades to a worth of over $12 billion highlighting its impact and the need to find the best business coach for your business so as to unlock maximum potential.

Even the best business coaches require the services of other business coaches to effectively understand, explore and take advantage of the many specifics in their individual business set ups.

Hiring a qualified coach can improve leadership and facilitate expansion in domains of fundraising and project management. However, there exist many important considerations in finding the best or ideal coach for your business. These considerations include;

Cost

Cost is a very important consideration in the selection of an ideal business coach and it most often depends on factors like specialty, of expertise and location. Although experts are usually very expensive, it’s possible to find affordable cost effective coaches. For and other social businesses, investing time and effort could easily find low pay experts who could offer coaching services as support of causes. Before even setting out in search of a coach, it’s necessary to study your budget and clearly allocate what can be used for coaching services so as to prevent over-extension into debt.

Best Business Fit

When sampling potential coaches for any business, key to make sure those with the best fit for your business are the target. For example, hiring an ideal non-profit coach would entail narrowing to affordable coaches in the social business domain with proven track records of success. This can be assisted by personal and social feedback recommendations in combination with actual discussions with these potential coaches.

Possible Time Engagement with Coach

This is a slightly complicated consideration when looking at getting a business coach because the dedicated time engagements are usually very much dependent on expertise, and location. However, ensuring the arrangement of quality and long enough time with your coach increases the effectiveness of the relationship. Furthermore, time for meetings and follow up work must be set aside to make the best out of the coaching.

Preparedness for Change

In order to set up for maximum benefits from engagement with a business coach, it is essential to be prepared for significant changes. This is the productivity of the relationship doesn’t only depend on the quality of advice from the coach but also on the preparedness of the management to listen and make changes with respect to this.

Hiring a social business coach can give and other social entrepreneurs the extra edge required for substantial growth, but their services would have to be cost effective, best fitting, and available.Their advice will also need to be and implemented for results to be eminent.

The many benefits associated with hiring the ideal business coach can be summarized under the following points;

Extra, Required Motivation

The one great quality almost every business coach will offer is relentless motivation and getting business owners unstuck when stepping into their own way. No matter the self-motivation possessed by the owner of any business, moments arrive when it’s almost impossible to apply this self-motivation. In times like this, an all-important push to recovery from a professional is required even if it’s simply in the form of confirming something already in your mind and plans.

Unafraid with Unbiased Opinion

A very important asset carried by business coaches is the ability to always provide unbiased opinions that are often absent in the management setting of many businesses. Furthermore, not being afraid to offer correction and confrontation to founders is very beneficial to every business as it often leads to solutions that others close to the business would have missed.

Stepping Outside Comfort Zones

In the absence of a business coach, it is very easy for business introvert managements to become overly comfortable and engulfed in their own ideas and goals limiting for expansion. Seasoned business coaches will encourage adventure and the trying out of new things that could be of help for your business and also curb over eagerness for extrovert entrepreneurs that could end up with being caught ruts. Moving out of your comfort zones with encouragement from your business coach breeds confidence which is usually translated to the achievement of very big goals.

Support in the Identification of Strengths and Weaknesses

An experienced business coach offers the capability of identifying patterns that assist in the discovery and exploitation of your strengths while taking note and addressing weaknesses. The outside perspective of a business coach goes far beyond sorting likes and dislikes but to the extent of uncovering useful hidden talents, and potential.

Increased Focus on Ideas and Business Needs

Hiring enhance creativity as they present increased opportunities to brainstorm ideas together fine tuning them with almost never leaving the business. Also, they ensure focus isn’t lost from the business goals employees, clients or family. Business coaches ensure priority remains on the business without sacrifice of other parts of life such as health which are important to successfully integrate for guaranteed success.

Goals Management and Accountability

Audacious goals are always well understood by coaches and they collaborate to enable realization. Managing business goals though isn’t a quality possessed by many entrepreneurs. With the help of coaches, there is understanding of how classification and follow up can be set up to monitor progress with respect to goals.

Setting up, managing and realizing the most audacious business goals hardly come without accountability during to someone. Your coach plays the role of an accountability partner with the responsibility of reminding you of set goals and promises to be fulfilled.

Having highlighted some of the benefits of hiring a business coach, it is fair to conclude all businesses especially start-ups and struggling projects would improve management, marketing and particularly fundraising with ideal social business coaching increasing expansion capability.

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