December 4, 2020
Small businesses are told that they’re on their way to growing a successful operation if they survive the first three years. For the owners of the 30.7 million small businesses in the United States, that means a constant state of striving and grinding to survive and thrive. To get there, they often rely on the sharp instincts and intuition that helped them start a business in the first place. While these practices can help owners start their business, they often will not allow them to scale and worse yet can sometimes cost more money.
In our experience, small business owners who add business intelligence to their toolbox are often able to make better decisions and cross the chasm to grow their operation. Here are three ways that we’ve seen BI help small businesses scale and grow.
One of the top challenges small business owners face is a lack of time. They wear all the hats—from accountant, to operations manager, to top salesperson, to administrative assistant. As a result, they carry an enormous amount of data in their heads, like their top customers, what products need to be restocked, and what seasonal changes will impact their operations. As their small business grows, entrepreneurs have less time to manage every aspect of their organization and less brain space to carry the same data they did when they started.
Business Intelligence allows owners to answer these questions by increasing access to data, creating automated reports and dashboards that highlight essential metrics. This level of understanding can empower each employee to make decisions and take action that aligns with the organization's strategic direction. When each contributor can act on a reliable source of information, then the production burden can be more evenly distributed.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest challenges small business owners faced was quickly adapting to the unexpected. Making smart decisions under pressure requires business owners to have the ability and tools to do so. However, if their brains are weighed down with too much detail or small choices to make, entrepreneurs will find it challenging to make these calls.
With BI, the owner or founder of a company can offload some of that mental space and allow other team members to take on the load. Once they can get out of the daily grind, entrepreneurs can see opportunities, think more strategically, and drive growth. This also creates an opportunity for small business owners to focus their time and energy on the decisions and areas that will result in the most benefit.
The other area where business intelligence can help small businesses is when it comes to spotting trends and opportunities. When data and information are siloed in different technology, people, or processes, it becomes more difficult to see how all the pieces fit together. Because BI unites all your data into one, convenient place and format, it creates an opportunity to see the bigger picture. Issues like inventory management, employee productivity and loss mitigation become clear.
We’ve often seen that most business owners have a solid gut feeling about what they need to do to grow their business. With BI, they get the data to either support or reframe their intrinsic understanding of an issue. Business intelligence also helps small businesses get out of the guessing game when it comes to making decisions. When all the data is in one place, it’s easier to get the answers you need.
Ultimately, we know that BI isn’t a magic wand that can fix any issue small businesses encounter. However, it is a tool that can improve an organization’s ability to make decisions and to drive growth from those decisions.