The day to day process of running a business, whether it’s a hair salon, a digital marketing agency or a specialist online retail company is simply one of making decisions. You decide which opportunities to chase, which to shun, which clients you think are vital to the future of your business and which you don’t need to bother wooing. You decide what adverts you place and where. It’s the same whether you’re a founder and CEO or if you’re simply managing a team within a wider organisation: you have finite resources and what feels like infinite ways to spend them, so choose.
Wherever you stand in the hierarchy of your company, be at the top, or the lowest of all managers, you’ll have to account for your decision making. Successful or not you’ll have to stand in front of a more senior manager, a board of directors, a key investor or even simply your own employees to explain what you’ve done, and why. In the wake of big losses, this could be a difficult, uncomfortable conversation and even lead to resignations.
Today we’re taking a look at how you can collect data and use it to inform your decision making process, to make sure you’re taking good decisions and that when you have to stand up and defend them you can feel confident that you’re methods will stand up!
The first thing you need is to gather your data. You need data on your own company – on the people and skillsets you have available, and how long common tasks take them. You need to know what your team’s capabilities are so you can accurately predict what and when they can deliver and avoid overpromising. It might be possible to get better results by pushing them harder, but if you do this too often you could collapse morale catastrophically.
You also need data on the market at large: how consumers perceive your brand, what your competitors are doing and the economic forces that underpin people’s choices. This means working with a market research firm. They have the expertise and scope to reach and survey a representative proportion of consumers rather than the smaller sampling you have access to. If you want to find out more about working with market research firms, click through.
As you begin to gather more and more data you’ll be able to start to model the outcomes of your decisions before you make them and steer towards good consequences and away from bad ones. Identifying patterns in the data and finding ways to reproduce good patterns while using negative ones as a warning sign for bad decisions are skills that take some development but you will always find that effort worth it.