Monthly Archives: April 2015

Numbers Don’t Lie…The Value of Business Data

Having a solid grasp and understanding of information is a key element for achieving business success. In today’s guest post, Heridev Business Solutions offers insight on the importance of tracking and interpreting business data for the entrepreneur, home-based and small business owners.
© Stevanzz | Dreamstime.com - Business Data Financial Report Print Close Up. Blue Toned. Photo

© Stevanzz | Dreamstime.com – Business Data Financial Report Print Close Up. Blue Toned. Photo

It was 3 pm and Susan’s Sandwich Shop was closed for the day. The staff was gone and the proprietor, Joan, was planning an early departure too to spend the evening with her daughter after whom she named the shop. It was a slow day as there were no throngs of office workers and students lining up for the inexpensive gourmet sandwiches.

As Joan checked off the receipts from the point of sale machine that was leased when she opened the business four years ago, she noticed that something else was also very different. The sales were a quarter of the regular daily intake.

While reviewing the cash and card receipts, Joan wondered if her plan to close all weekend was the right one. So as to soothe that nagging fear, she decided to look at the sales history for the past two years around the Easter and Passover holidays. She also pulled up her bank statements for the same time last year.

Upon viewing the historical data, the proprietor became less worried as it was apparent that the numbers were typical for the shop during those holiday seasons. Whew, what a relief.

Like Joan, many small business owners have invested in technology and software that store a lot of historical data about their business’ sales, purchases and performance. For some of these entrepreneurs, this data can be found in point of sale systems and for others it is in their accounting software. Even the shoeboxes filled with receipts and invoices hold valuable information that, if analyzed, can help the entrepreneur to make better business decisions.

Data Efficiency and Interpretation

What though is the most efficient way to capture information?  Automated systems are able to produce detailed reports quickly which is why Joan was able to see the numbers for a three year period within a few seconds and make the necessary comparisons. Automation also improves efficiency by recording and tracking information about sales, customers, purchases, returns, etc. that, if done manually, would take hours to complete. ZDNet, the business technology news website, opines that obtaining a good point of sales system is a worthwhile investment for small retailers and restaurants.

However, data by itself is of little value to the entrepreneur if it is not interpreted to identify relevant trends and patterns. If she wishes to, Joan can easily identify her best selling items for the past four years. She can also effortlessly know which product is the cash cow for the business based on data from the sales margins report.

The small business magazine Chron argues that it is critical for small businesses to analyze the information that is available to them so that they can use it to react to changes in consumer preferences and adjust their strategies in response to the opportunities and threats that are present in the external environment.

Information is a vital resource for any entrepreneur and technology makes it easy to harness and use the data gathered. So then, what will you do with your business data today?

7 Budget-Friendly Marketing Strategies

© Piotr Majka | Dreamstime Stock Photos |Glass Jar With Coins

© Piotr Majka | Dreamstime Stock Photos |Glass Jar With Coins

As an entrepreneur, you could have the finest service or product on the planet, but if customers never discover it, your startup is going to face rough waters. Every business requires marketing, but it shouldn’t cause you to bust your budget. The following handy and economical suggestions will help you get your message out without squeezing you dry:

1. Conduct Your Own Market Research.

              Prepare a compilation of your customers’ questions, needs and issues. While you’re at it, record basic demographic information, such as gender, age and status. This will bolster your efforts to sharpen your marketing message so that it directly addresses your customers’ needs.

2. Ungarble Your Message.

                            Don’t throw away resources on elaborate collateral without first developing a clear, concise message. If the average Jack or Jill doesn’t “get” your message, then simplify it. Clarity rules

3. Inexpensive Public Relations.

Do things that will burn your business’ persona into the public’s consciousness. Make sure to volunteer your services or products at charity events, publish blog articles written by you or by respected guest bloggers, write favorable comments on other blog sites, and get involved in civic and networking activities.

4. Try a Small Marketing Agency.

                Engage a small marketing agency and monitor its advice for effectiveness. A small agency well understands your budget constraints– it no doubt has its own constraints — but nonetheless must cough up innovative, exciting concepts that will goose your business. If you aren’t happy, give another agency a shot, but only after allotting enough time to the first one to fairly judge their results.

5. Marketing Advice for Free.

        Internet blogs like this one that you are reading at this very instant offer prized information freely. A library (real or virtual) is another cost-efficient resource. Here’s another idea: marketing agencies frequently provide a free initial consultation — you can learn a lot without making any commitments.

6. Word-of-Mouth.

      Few types of marketing are more efficient than is word of mouth. Energize your customers to talk up your business by offering contests, raffles, and loyalty programs, as well as personalized solutions and superlative service. Recruit your happy customers to send out “the word.” Many people love to do this — you have only but to ask

7. Pamper Your Vendors.

    A happy vendor can enhance your business, but an unhappy vendor can be ruinous. Always pay vendors on time! In fact, a better tactic is to pay them in advance. If they want to be your friends, they will gladly endorse you, especially if you reciprocate.
        As you can see, there are many opportunities to adopt inexpensive marketing ideas for your business. You may experience slow results at first, but stay focused and intentional to reap benefits well in excess of the money you spent.