Why Business Analytics Is Essential for Running a Successful Business

WHY IS BUSINESS ANALYTICS IMPORTANT?
The foremost goal of any organization is profitability, and customer satisfaction is a huge component of the success of a business. When an organization innovates and stays ahead of its competition, it fulfills and goes beyond customer expectations. Many businesses still rely on ineffective, time-consuming traditional techniques for decision making processes that cannot keep pace with the competition.

The use of “Gut feel” in taking strategic decisions still plays an important role among business leaders. But does reliance on “Gut feeling” and “Traditional techniques” make for smart decision-making? What’s the best approach?

The technology boom has given rise to innovations in how data is used. Business analytics is the solution and the best move to ensure competitiveness in today’s era. To define the term: “Business analytics, one of the emerging fields in the data science, refers to the methods and various statistical and quantitative techniques used by an organization for informed decision making and business modeling”.

Analytics is the change that helps you to get your business on track. It assists the businesses to convert the humongous amount of generalized data into observation, patterning and vision.

BENEFITS OF BUSINESS ANALYTICS
What was discussed above is just an academic definition. Now let’s discuss why one needs to adopt it in business operations:

  1. Fast decisions are easily taken, but what matters is smart decisions taken in a short period. It helps to inculcate faster and smarter decision making into business culture of your organization. With the help of business analytics, the company can empower a team for data analysis to extract targeted information. When a company accesses accurate and essential data, undoubtedly, it will take the right decisions.
  2. Analytics helps in quantifying business values.
  3. Most businesses provide training programs for fresh recruits or older employees where the core business values are imparted or refreshed. Instead, companies should go a step further and undertake the help of business analytics to translate business values into numbers. This is a more cost and time efficient undertaking.

CAREER PATH OF A BUSINESS ANALYST
A business analyst is one who assists organizations in the process of business analytics. The career path of a business analyst is not strictly defined as there are several options based on industry, qualifications, interests, preferences etc.

  • Training provides trainees with the skills and knowledge needed for a proper understanding and interpretation of data.
  • Training courses help students in getting exposed to data systems and tools like R, SAS, Python etc. making them eligible for various analytical jobs.
  • The best incentive for undergoing a course is that the industry-best average salary of a business analyst is Rs 491,522 a year. There are various skills that can increase the pay scale of a business analyst like project management, SAS etc.

CONCLUSION

  • The role of a business analyst is often seen as one that bridges the gap between different departments in an organization. There are various business analytics courses which can help you achieve all the benefits mentioned above. Candidates with these skills can help an organization to strategically improve operational efficiency.

Small Business Loans With A Poor Credit Score

Many small business owners struggle with obtaining business finance, and there is absolutely nothing unusual about this. Getting a business loan for small businesses, such as retailers, restaurants, garages and so on, is not as simple as one would think from the bank.

This is not to say however, that getting a business loan is not possible. It all depends on where one goes looking for the loan. Typically, there are two primary options that business owners have, approaching their local banks and going to a private funder or lender.

Banks and small business loans

Banks look at applications for small business loans from their perspective and their perspective is determined by their criteria. When we speak of criteria, there are numerous criteria and these are all non-flexible as well as stringent.

Typically, banks require high credit scores, which should be around about 700 or over. If a business applying for a loan with the bank lacks excellent credit, their application will be rejected simply based on that one criteria. In conclusion to banks and credit scores, business funding with bad credit with a bank is not a possibility.

This is not to say that there are not a number of other criteria, which banks follow carefully and take equally seriously as well. The criteria of banks have been established over the decades based on shared experience, and these criteria are across the board.

As is generally acknowledged, banks are not very keen on funding small business loans. The reasons for this are many and one of the primary reasons is that, small businesses are considered to be high risk investments from the banks perspective and experience.

Private funders and small business loans

With a private lender the situation is completely different from what a business owner will experience with a bank. Private lenders have a completely different list of criteria to provide cash advance for business owners.

As private lenders primarily offer MCA (Merchant Cash Advances), the criteria for these is simple. An MCA loan is an unsecured loan, and does not require high credit scores either. As a result it’s easy to qualify for this kind of funding.

However, many a small business owners don’t look upon MCAs from a friendly perspective, and they do have their reasons. The interest rates are higher than traditional bank loans, and most business owners want low interest rates.

The point with MCAs is however not to compete with bank financing, as they are both in quite different arenas. Apart from the fact that they are both financing for businesses, the entire process, requirements, features and all other details related to the funding are completely different.

With an MCA loan the question how to qualify for small business loans does not really apply. Only in very few cases are small businesses turned away by private lenders. Generally, most businesses receive the funding they require for their business.

MCA loans V/S bank loans

Merchant cash advances or MCA in short are generally accompanied with high interest rates. Far higher than what the bank provides, and the reason for this is these are unsecured short term loans.

There are many businesses who would never qualify for a traditional bank loan, regardless of how badly they need it or want it. If their credit scores are low, or if they are unable to provide the collateral the banks require their applications will be rejected. This is not to say that there are not a lot of other grounds on which small business loan applications are not declined by banks. Also, banks are under not obligation to provide funding to those they choose not to. This leaves many small business with no other option.

For an MCA loan a business requires nothing much in the way of credit scores and collateral. The basic criteria for an MCA loan is mentioned here, as follows. The business should be at least 12 months old and a running business. The owner of the business should not be in active bankruptcy at the time of the loan application. Finally, the gross income of the business needs to be at least $10 thousand a month.

The easy criteria makes it simple to obtain an MCA, and the drawbacks are definitely the interest rates and the duration for some business owners. However, those who capitalize on such business funding are those business who either have no choice, or those who require quick business loans. Some of the advantages are the processing time frames, which can be as little as a couple of days.

Small Business Owners: The Building Blocks to Increase Profits

The foundational building blocks of every business are Processes (procedures/policy), People (employees), Customers and Resources (ideas/capital). Leaders, who strengthen and understand each of these blocks, build their business. Those who weaken or neglect these building blocks, find themselves with declines in both their top and bottom lines.

Believe it or not, organizations can sometimes forget that creating and delivering top quality products and providing excellent services is their main objective. Organizations keep ineffective processes in effect because it is comfortable, safe and familiar. Leaders must regularly set aside time to define and redefine their processes, track defects and poor service, and make improvements to solidify these (5) major building blocks.

Owner Mindset

You’ve got to make the mental shift from running your businesses as a self-employed job/good employee to building a business you can one day sell, scale or own passively to fund your retirement.

This means consistently reminding yourself that you are just a temporary producer, and that your business must eventually replace you from its day to day operations.

Be Clear in Your Mission

There’s a reason you started a business and left your job (or didn’t try to find a new one). Why are you doing this? Keep in mind that your personal mission and your company’s mission can be different, as long as they’re aligned and can co-exist. You did the mission statement in the business plan and it’s on the bookshelf collecting dust.

Network and Get a Mentor

Get a business advisor or coach. It doesn’t have to be someone professional, just someone who can share experiences to bounce ideas off of and tell you when you are losing teams, money and the mindset.

Get your Business off the Road to Nowhere

When the money gets tight and the momentum fades, you are left with day to day work of the business, this is when you learn how to make your business run. It can become grinding because sales are slow and you are learning how the business actually operates, to acquire customers, market products, understand how changing processes and products affect your financials, and every idea you have does not automatically work as you envision it to increase profits.

At some point while running a business, your likely to experience that burned out or uninspired feeling. Work-life balance is important; there is a truth, in working hard and playing hard to unwind. Reading a daily devotion and taking a daily 30 minute walk can assist in relaxing the mind, etc.

Customer

Customer acquisition is expensive in order to acquire new customers, companies must effectively target, market to and convince customers to try their product or service.

Many business owners do not take time to figure out who is their target customer. What are their target customers’ likes, dislikes, needs and wants? Which types of media do they consume? What is the cheapest way to reach them? How much is the target customer willing to pay for their products or services? Where and how should we sell our products?

Remember, it is cheaper to keep a customer than it is to acquire new ones.

Master the Art of Engagement

Being engaging is important in every part of your business, whether its communicating through email marketing, social media, blogs, videos and other commercial formats

Grab social Media Attention

Social media marketing plan should include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the company website to communicate with your customer. Use the same theme, pictures (banner pages) and similar products.

Understand importance of Business Logos

It is the first thing potential customers will notice about your brand, make sure it is presentable, professional and polished. Make sure the Logo connects with your customer needs and wants.

Create an experience for your Brand

Create fun and informative environment to solve your customer problems

The Right Clients are more Important than the Most clients

Most business strategy is get the cash in the door by any means necessary to get most clients in the door. Problem is you achieve all of this at the expense of quality, profit and sanity. The right clients will allow your company to do better work, build a better reputation, generate more profits and retain better employees.

Focus on Your Goal, Objectives, Theme but most of all Profitability

Don’t try to be all things to all customers. Specialize in solving your ‘target audience’ problems and have fun doing it. Even the largest companies do their best when they focus on keeping the ‘main thing the main thing’.

Operations

Processes

Are the actions and applications that executives and teams put in place to achieve desired results.

Leaders need to take a step back to review their processes-individually or in a cross-functional groupings— to eliminate inefficiencies and optimize performance, annually or as the market changes.

Systems

Systems are the reliable processes and procedures that empower your business to consistently produce an excellent result for your client and profitability for you.

Documenting automated processes can increase your company’s efficiency and reduce costly mistakes; the checklists your employees follow to ensure that all orders are shipped correctly; the orientation process for all new clients when you begin working together; and the standardized contracts you use with all your new hires and vendors.

Controls/Standards

Controls are the processes, procedures and safeguards that protect your company form uninformed or inappropriate decisions or actions by any team member. They also are your business’s way of making sure that key work is getting done on time and the right way.

There are (4) main types of business controls:

  1. Checklists/Visual Business Process Controls
  2. Scorecards/ Business Performance Measurements Metrics by Function (KPI)
  3. Embedded Internal Quality Controls— product/process quality checks
  4. Policy and Procedures— written/measured

Scalable Solutions

Systems(using excel and quickbooks), Processes and Procedures that worked for a $1million dollar a year business, are not sufficient for $10 million dollar business or a $25 million dollar business.

Scaling your business requires building it in such a way that your business model and systems can be rolled out and replicated on a much bigger playing field, based on increased product ordered/processed sales volume.

Example, choosing a database solution or a 3rd party fulfillment should be based on actual growth rates, not potential or forecasted projected sales.

Financials

Cash flow and Financial Statements are your ‘life line’.

  • Learn how you are making and losing money. Understand profit and loss statements and what processes and procedures link to improving the ‘profits’ of your business.

Resources

The company’s financial wherewithal additionally, the measurement tools necessary to manage and track finances and assets. Do you have the knowledge, competencies and skills necessary to use those tools to increase your profits?

Small and mid-size businesses must master the ability to manage their working capital and cash flow. Every company has access to profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements. Management is either using accounting software or someone is preparing the reports for management.

How well does senior management understand the company’s financials and it correlation to their strategy? Do these managers understand which parts of the company need investment, where cuts can be made on why?

Managers must take the time to learn the relationships and interdependencies between their tools and the reports they use to maximize their resources.

Teamwork makes DreamWorks

You can’t do it by yourself. It is critical to ensure that your business doesn’t rely on the presence of any one individual.

Even Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, needed a great team to help them execute, deliver and do everything behind the scenes to deliver their vision to customers.

Surround yourself with the best people you can find. Hire people who are smarter than you, then step back and let them do their jobs. Remember championships are won by teams, not athletes. Employees are hired either to increase revenue or to decrease expenses in order to improve profits, no other reason.

People

People are not your greatest asset; the right people are. The wrong people are your greatest catastrophe. Mediocre people are your greatest drain on resources.

Leaders must strive to create learning organizations where the organization is always pushing to improve. A organization where employees feel valued and are contributing according to their abilities.

Effective management will create an organization where personal growth is expected and rewarded and employees are both challenged and satisfied.

Social Media for Small Businesses

Social media has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Businesses of all size and shapes have started making the most of available mediums. Today we will try to anatomize tips on social media for small businesses. There are a plethora of small businesses eyeing social medium to promote their business/services. However, majorly these small businesses are failing or not being able to make optimum use of social media for their business growth. There are many theories and strategies on how to effectively use social media for established brands, but the topic social media for small businesses is seldom addressed. According to Digital state of eMarketing India 2017 Octane Research:

60% small businesses promote their business on social media. 50% focus on SEO and 35% use multichannel marketing funnel.
70% small businesses consider content strategy as their primary marketing activity.
52% business owners are using social media as to efficiently address customer engagement.
More than 20% of business owners said that they are making 50% plus profit using social media.

The primary reasons for the low turnout are uncertainty on an application of social media, calculating return on investment and persuade employees/stakeholders to clinch social media. Hence it is important to address the elephant in the room and analyze how beneficial is Social media for small businesses.

Social media for small businesses is a great way for emerging businesses to generate lead and build a reputation. If regularly updated, social media can deliver more results as compared to traditional mediums. Social media for small businesses gives brands an edge of control over the content that they want to post. Also, since social media is a two-way dialogue process, it helps businesses to instantly identify what is benefitting them. Social media for small businesses also helps generate Word of Mouth, which is one of the best tools for emerging businesses.

Social Media for small businesses | 10 Tips to effectively use Social Media

Define your Target Audience
The first and foremost important part that small businesses should focus on is to define their target audience. This helps small businesses to device their social media strategy accordingly. The target audience should be defined basis age group, sex, location, users’ online behaviors, their likes, interests, and preferences. For niche products, business owners can even target users based on their birthdays, anniversaries and important milestone. Audience targeting plays a very crucial role in the outcome of the results. For e.g.: a local shop selling footwear should not target users with interest in entertainment. The shop definitely won’t get the desired results.

Set achievable goals
Overnight success is a myth. Small businesses must understand this basic fact. Generally, when a new business starts selling on social media, there is palpable excitement is achieving more than set targeted sales. Businesses need to set goals which are upwards and forward. To achieve enormous goals, small businesses start updating social feed with multiple updates in shorter duration. This leads to user’s disinterest in the product/service. The set goals should be in sync with brand’s core capabilities and expertise. For e.g.: if a business is into selling shoes, they shouldn’t set a goal to repair maximum shoes in their area.

Choose the right medium
By now everyone knows, social media is for free. Even paid campaigns can be conducted at a relatively low cost as compared to traditional mediums. It is in this scenario, that we often see small businesses jumping the bandwagon and creating profiles on all the available platforms. Creating social profile doesn’t hamper brand image, but aggressively promoting a brand on wrong platforms can lead to brand losing its potential customers. Hence it is advisable for SME’s to first identify the right platform through which they can maximize their business. For e.g.: If a shoe selling brand tries to aggressively sell on LinkedIn, they won’t get a plausible response as compared to promotions on Facebook/Instagram.

Promote your core product/services
Since each and every business is riding in the social media wave, it is important for a them to promote their core product/services. Nowadays, we see a lot of businesses promoting their services as well as promoting peripheral products/services, which revolves around their core product/services. Majority of the times, this SME’s doesn’t have capabilities to fulfill a requirement, which can lead to a bad word of mouth for their business on social media platforms. Let us go back to our example; if a shoe seller is trying to aggressively promote socks instead of shoes, it is not going to benefit the business in the long run.

Create quality content
Now that we have covered the topics of identifying the target audience, setting achievable goals, choosing the right medium and promoting the right product/services let us now take a look at the type of content a business should promote on their social pages. A business should always focus on creating good quality content rather than not-good quantity content. Even if the business updates their page once in a day as long as it is relevant to their business, advocates about its core products send across a clear message it is considered as a good quality content. Antagonistically, if a business posts multiple updates which aren’t even relevant to the business’s products and services leads to users considering the business as fake/spam. Also, new businesses should try and refrain from promoting other businesses on their social platforms initially.

Create a content calendar
Making a small business successful on social platforms is no small task. It takes a lot of efforts for the businesses to keep up their conversion ratio. One such effort is to create a content calendar. Small businesses must anticipate important events and create a content calendar accordingly. Ideally, a content calendar must be planned a month in advance but an even weekly content calendar is highly recommended. This helps businesses to avoid any last minute hassles, strategize much more effectively and it also helps in creating curiosity amongst its loyal fans/customers.

Test and re-test
Social media is highly unpredictable. The content a business posts today, might not work for tomorrow. Hence, small businesses must always test their content before publishing it on their pages. Testing content also applies to the platform a small business chooses to promote. Small business owners must always don the consumer’s hat before posting about any product feature, updates, schemes or offers. A consumer’s perspective is the key when testing the content that has to be uploaded.

Look for inspiration
Small businesses must always look for inspiration from a competitor who is successful in the same category. Copy pasting competitors idea or content is not the answer. Small businesses must look for the kind of content its competitors are putting up and derive their own strategies subsequently. Inspiring content/stories always make a business to strive to create their own content that is appreciated by one and all. It helps in increasing brand consideration, brand visibility thereby increasing conversions for the business.

Calculate ROI
Even a small promotional budget is not justifiable if there is no mechanism to calculate its return on investment. It is more important in case of small businesses. It is very important for a small business to keep a tab on the budgets allocated to any promotions and the subsequent ROI related to it. If a certain promotion is not doing well or the business is not getting desired results, the brand custodian can always look for other platforms to generate quality conversions.

Analyze and Re-strategize
There can be umpteen instances where a particular campaign/promotion might not work for a business. That doesn’t mean that the promotion is wrong or the product/service is not good. Doing an analysis of the campaign is as important as setting the objective. This helps the business to formulate their upcoming strategies in more effective ways. At the end of every campaign, brands must note down the learning’s from that campaign and identify if the content/idea was appreciated by their fans or not. This helps businesses to skip the non-performing updates from future communications.