This is the first part in a series about running a small business, using data as the lifeblood of the organisation. This is a business-focused blog where I discuss my ideas, thoughts and experiences, with some practical takeaways for you to follow up. I assume no knowledge about data or technology at all. As time goes on, I will point you at more technical resources over at my tech blog, jenstirrup.com
Growing a customer base as Queen Bee
How do you recruit and retain customers as a growing business? As Queen (or King!) Bee, that's one of your many roles. As part of my business review with my mentor, I have been taking a look at recruiting and retaining customers, where I've been successful in the past, and where I haven't been successful. Somehow, it doesn't feel very British to talk about success but I am using the data to review it in a more abstract, clinical way. How can I use my own skills to help turn my data pollen into honey?
Turning Customer Feedback from Data Pollen to Honey
Getting feedback is incredibly valuable, and part of my business intelligence journey has been to gather that data. In order to collect my data pollen, I have set up Dynamics CRM properly. I realised that I wasn't always very good at following up on leads, or self-reporting my successes and losses. Now, I am trying to do a better job of it. I'll blog separately about shortcuts to Dynamics CRM for Office365 over at my technical blog, and I'll post the links on this page when I've done it.
Nectar from my Business Mentor Bee
To collect more data pollen, I need more bees! It's my intention to get my business mentor bee to interview some of my customers in order to understand better my strengths and weaknesses. It will be humbling and difficult, but it will be insightful and it will help to move me forward. It feels more British to talk about problems, so I deal with that first. I am learning to listen better to feedback, both positive and negative. The devil is in the detail!
How am I collecting more data pollen? There is so much data, I need help to analyse it but it needs to be in place to begin with. For my business mentor bee to do that effectively, I need to make sure the CRM system is up to date. This means I'm learning about Dynamics CRM and PowerBI together, so it's also useful from the technical standpoint. Expect more presentations about these topics!
Like pollen, data has to be fresh and up-to-date; it's incredibly fragile, and, together, the tiny pieces of pollen make up the nourishment that we need. It's important to look at the bigger picture by chaining the data together. Our end goal is to work towards the honey that will nourish the business.
It's amazing what a small bee can do! When I look down my list of successes, I think those tend to be due to 'easy to work beside'. One interesting piece of feedback I had recently was that I'd successfully delivered a project which my customer had been planning for over a year, but never executed. Why did I succeed? As the customer put it, 'I left the ego outside the front door, where it belongs'. Apparently, not everyone has that approach. We can learn a lot from bees: work hard, be a part of your team, and collect your data pollen.
Need help? I'll help you turn your data pollen into honey.
Looking at my own data has meant I am making my own honey with my own pollen. It has been enlightening and it has been great to take that step back to see the bigger picture. I sat with one of my employees earlier this week, and I showed her the data, visualised in Power BI and we were completely astonished at some of the findings. For example, I found a distinct pattern; I tend to work in cycles of consultancy with quarterly episodes of training.
Power BI made is super easy to see that my consultancy work feeds directly into my training experience, and I do train from real-world experience as well as theoretical knowledge and technical expertise.
If you are interested in speaking to me about any of the items here: data for the small business, Dynamics CRM and Power BI, or just to learn more about my approach and how I can help your organisation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use my contact page. Let me help you to make honey from your data pollen!