Working with many start-ups on setting up their Business Intelligence and helping with their data needs, I have found myself repeating the following words of advice:

  1. Identify what data to collect – I have often found that start-ups and enterprise level companies often want to collect everything that they think they need. However, a bit percentage of data collected are useless and what’s more sad is that the data that could really help the business is not being collected. So what can you do about it? Sit down with your marketing and sales team and look at every piece of information that you have and identify 5-10 attributes that are very important. Ask the team if you had that information what would I do with it? Also ask the team what data are you missing? Once you have the list, now it is time to figure a way to collect it and remove the data at least from your forms on data you do not need.
  2. Standardizing Data – It is important to not only collect the data but also store it in a way that you can automatically gain insight without having to do any data manipulation. For example, B2B businesses may get information on company’s number of employees, instead of putting it in a range say 10,000+ or 1-10 employees they actually store the data as 15,000 or 8. This is going to make it very difficult to present the data in a graph to see where most of the new records are coming from, top growing segments and so on.
  3. Establish Target Market – In order to define a clear target market a good segmentation model should be created. A lot business define their target market using brain storming instead of looking at either internal data or external data.
  4. Utilizing Tools – Tools such as Marketing Automation or CRMs can be pricey and that is the last thing a small start-up usually wants to spend their own or investor’s money. However, using free or low-end tools can often cost the company more money as it would require more time from their employees to work around the limitations, will increase risk when you do decide to migrate to a better tool and can even cost more if you want to add ad-ons and features.
  5. Analyze – You cannot afford to not measure and analyze everything. From what color a button should be on your website to scripts your sales force uses. However, keep in mind that if you lack data you can be making a wrong decision because you are biased.
  6. Test Everything – As you establish your strategy it is advisable to test everything prior to making full commitment to something.
  7. Learn from Others – Since you maybe lacking the necessary data and experience reading third party content from sites such as techround can go a long way.
  8. Hire the right people – It can take a while to get the right person for a particular role. They should have the right experience, the right attitude and most importantly they must believe in your product or service as much as you do. While you are looking for the right person hiring a consultant maybe a good way to go as they will often save you time and money.
  9. Focus on Product Development and Customer Service – As you are starting out you cannot afford even one customer complaint. Therefore, make sure that your product is well tested and your employees are being helpful to your customers.
  10. Marketing and Sales should align – Finally, the most successful companies are the ones where sales and marketing are working together to achieve great success. Often companies divide the two departments which is understandable as their tasks differ. However, their strategy should be aligned. A customer does not care that an email was sent by an email marketer while they are having a call with a sales rep, all the see is the brand which is unified.

Regardless of your business’s activity, financial situation or company stage everyone can use a reminder what makes a company great. And in today’s world, you cannot afford to run a business without good product or service, employees and data.