As you might have noticed on our blog in recent months, we’ve moved to a model where every month we focus on a different aspect of business. October was all about getting more business through marketing and November focussed on IT security and the role this plays in the everyday running of your small business.
Now that it’s December, it’s time once again to shift focus to another important aspect of running a successful small business. This vertical is, simply put, all about the business of getting paid and getting results. We call it technology and pulling results. Want to learn more? Keep reading.
What is technology & pulling results?
Technology and pulling results focusses on making informed business decisions and making sure you get paid accurately and on time. As we see it, the two most important tools of technology and pulling results are cloud accounting and data analysis. These tools will help streamline the everyday running of your business, help you make business decisions based on facts and figures, save you money and make sure your accounts are in order – after all, when it comes to small businesses, cash flow is king.
Moving your accounting to the cloud
We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of cloud computing on our blog in the past, especially when it comes to running a successful small business. Storing your files and applications in the cloud means greater flexibility and scalability, with staff being able to easily collaborate wherever they are. But cloud computing has many benefits to accounting, too, starting with invoicing.
Proper invoicing is a key part of running any business, ensuring consistent cash flow and fewer accounting-related headaches. While in the past, businesses had to rely on paper-based invoices that had to be sent out by post and could easily get displaced, doing your invoicing online has simplified things a great deal.
And to make things as easy as possible for you, we recommend you move your invoicing to the cloud. This means you’ll find your invoice templates all in one place where you can easily edit and send them to clients, tracking their opening and payment. This way, the whole process of invoicing will be easier and partially automated.
You’ll also have all of the invoices you’ve sent conveniently stored in one location accessible from anywhere for future reference. Cloud accounting means there’s no more ambiguity when it comes to invoicing – you’ll have much better visibility of what you’re owed and your financial standing as a whole. This will help you make more informed business decisions.
Some of our favourite cloud accounting software products include Xero, Sage and Quickbooks. If you’re interested in learning more about cloud computing, we have more articles coming out on this subject in the next two weeks.
What is business analysis?
Business data analytics is the other key part of technology and pulling results. It’s key to business innovation and making decisions about your company based on facts. Additionally, business analysis can help you improve customer satisfaction and cybersecurity, among other things.
Some of the most powerful ways to use data analysis for business performance management include data mining, text analytics, business insight and data visualisation. Data mining goes through large amounts of data using AI, databases, machine learning and statistics to detect trends and patterns for use in your business decision making. Business analytics like this can be used for things like content filtering, customer relationship management and fraud detection.
Meanwhile, text analytics processes unstructured text, deriving conclusions based on patterns and trends within. These could then be further analysed using statistics and machine learning. Text analytics is used in your email’s spam filter that looks for wording common to malicious emails. Text analytics can also be used for things like finding common phrases in your customer reviews.
Data visualisation is simply the displaying of data gathered through text analysis or data mining in a visual form like graphs and tables. This makes the data easier to digest, meaning that key decision-makers in your business can understand trends relating to your company and field as a whole at a glance. Business insight is similar, transforming data into actionable insights about trends for tactical decision making.
Why you need business analytics & how to get started with it
Without business analytics, you’re left in the dark, unable to make educated decisions about your business. As you might have gathered from the above, chances are that you’ve already used business analytics to your advantage in the past, even if you’ve not done this consciously. Anyone who uses something like Google Analytics to see what pages of your website are getting the most traffic or who’ve made business decisions based on past sales figures has used business analytics.
But if you want to make the most of the data you have on your business and its customers, you’ll need to take a more tactical approach to business analytics. This can mean many things depending on how much money and manpower you’re willing to devote to analytics. It could just mean giving analytics as an additional task for someone proficient in Excel, investing in some business analysis tools and/or hiring a specialised data analyst to join your team for business reporting.
The bottom line
The aim of our technology and pulling results vertical is to empower small business owners to have greater visibility into how their company is performing, highlighting opportunities for further growth. To find out more about how you can achieve this, tune in for more blog posts on these subjects in the next few weeks.