Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. The advantage of hindsight is that all the data that affects a decision has been revealed and is known. Unfortunately, real life never works that way. As an entrepreneur, you have to operate on a combination of one part data, one part intelligent guesses, and, if we are really frank about it, one part luck.
Managing a business, when broken down into its simplest form, is about making a series of decisions. And how those decisions are made can make all the difference. Most entrepreneurs have a lot of faith in their gut or instincts. And why not? The decision to become an entrepreneur itself is one that is based on passion, the belief that you have a winning product or service idea, and the unquenchable desire to do something on your own. Just look at the words – passion, belief, desire. Not really things you can measure and make data points about. But, combine or guide your gut feeling with the right data at the right time, and it could lead to better business decisions.
The trick, of course, is to have access to the right data at the right time.
The data that you need to make decisions while managing your business, in many cases, is about your business itself. It is about how much you spend, how much is due to you, what is your inventory situation – seemingly simple things. But if you are able to have this information at your fingertips, accessible whenever you want it, it makes your decisions not just faster, but more sound as well.
The first step to having the right data is to collect it. Do you have systems and processes that ensure that every important piece of information is captured? It could be your CRM, or your financial management software. Unless the data is captured and categorized, it cannot be utilized to distil useful information. Because raw data is just that, raw; and what you need is the analysis to make an informed decision.
When you are managing a business, you have to have your eye on the ball at all times. And that means having all your data accessible in a form that makes it easy for you to interpret and make decisions. For example, if you are able to track overdue payments as soon they become overdue, or are able to see the payment pattern of a specific customer with a bad payment record in just a few clicks, it makes it easier to track and take remedial measures. Having anywhere, anytime access to the right data empowers you with knowledge, and helps you monitor and manage your business with complete and up-to-the-minute information. The closest you can get to the 20/20 vision that hindsight promises.
Which brings me back to my starting point. I have found that the more relevant data I have, the more intelligent my guesses are. And the more confidence I have in going with my gut feeling.