Once you start working for yourself, its easy to catch the entrepreneurship bug. Suddenly, you’re not snoozing the alarm clock and fantasising about holidays in the sun. You’re waking up early, putting the hours in and dreaming about scaling up.
One of the biggest challenges for self-employed people who want to make the step towards becoming a small business owner is understanding how to grow. While companies – even baby ones – typically have a few different people on board with different skillsets, you’re doing this all yourself. And that’s where data can become your trusted companion or aide-de-camp.
Here are five different ways you can use data to understand your opportunity better, and start growing.
Analyse trends to understand where to focus your attention
Every sale you make and every service you deliver is a valuable data point. If you’re not already keeping comprehensive records of your clients and transactions, then now is the time to start. Most businesses use some kind of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to help them record and analyse all that duty customer information. But when you’re working for yourself and operations are still quite small, a spreadsheet can work too!
Delving into this information can help you understand which products and services are popular, and what type of customers they’re popular with. And that’s only at the most basic level. As you get more comfortable with the data (and as you collect more info), you can look at more complex areas such as opportunities for upselling and potentially untapped client bases.
Armed with this new information, you can make sure your energy is being spent in the right areas. Having the data to back up your decisions is also a great confidence-booster.
Gather the opinions of your customers to tweak performance
Have you ever surveyed your clients to find out what they think? While this is a normal part of day-to-day operations for most businesses, it’s not something that freelancers and self-employed people typically think about. And yet it’s such a powerful way to get data about how you can improve and grow.
When gathering customers’ opinions, think about what information will be most valuable and how you will use it. For instance:
- Ask if there is anything you could have done to make their customer journey smoother
- Find out if there were any additional services they would have liked you to offer. This could help to identify key areas for building up the business.
- Find out about their demand for similar services in the future – would they be likely to use you again?
Asking customers for their feedback also makes them feel valued, increasing the chances that they’ll return to you in the future.
Use data to demonstrate your value and bring in new clients
How many customers have you helped? How many great reviews have you had? What have you helped your clients to achieve? You may know these things like the back of your hands, but if you’re not shouting about them then they’re not doing you any good.
It’s really quick and easy to create some shiny graphics that demonstrate some of the data points your most proud of. If you’re not much of a design-whizz, you can use a tool like Canva to make this even easier. The results can be displayed on your website or integrated into your pitch deck for meeting new clients. It’s such a simple thing that can really help to sell your skills.
These tips are the things that established businesses do every day. As a freelancer or self-employed entrepreneur, adopting business-like behaviours early can really help you to grow and excel.