Analyzing data is an important part of every business, regardless of its industry or size. This is the information that tells you exactly how your business is doing, what is working, what isn’t and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
If you aren’t analyzing as much data on your business as possible, you are essentially operating with your eyes closed, which is not the fast-track to success.
In an effort to help you collect and analyze the correct data, here are five reports that you should be running on a weekly basis. The data gathered will help you make intelligent business decisions that lead to growth and, ultimately, success.
While the internet can help take your business to new heights, it can also act as a major distraction for your employees if you let it. Every minute your employees spend surfing the internet or updating their Facebook status, translates into lost revenue for your business.
“Using employee monitoring software that has detailed reporting allows you to dive in and really see what your team is doing while on the clock. You can set the software to track websites visited and time spent on each, while also monitoring the individual productivity of each person,” advises Josh Burnett, Attorney at Florida Ticket Firm.
Small business owners can use these employee productivity reports to determine the specific periods of time that they were unproductive, and then see what they were actually doing at that time. This allows you to address issues and eventually eliminate habits that contribute to poor team productivity.
Sales and revenue are the heart and soul of every business. Without them, you have nothing. It’s important that you review your sales and revenue numbers as often as possible to make sure that you are on track to meet or exceed your monthly goals, while also constantly trending upward in terms of growth.
“Knowing your sales and revenue is key, as you need it to compare directly against your expenses. If a business isn’t turning a healthy profit month-after-month, you need to adjust. Consecutive down months can quickly stall growth and create a very bad situation,” says Hunter Payne of HomeLinkCincinnati.
Something as simple as running a report from your accounting system every week allows you to dive into enough data to quickly determine whether or not your sales and revenue are on track or need to be addressed. It’s important that you are proactive—sitting back and hoping for a change will never work—you need to take action in order to see positive upward movement.
Keeping track of every penny that leaves your business is just as important as monitoring sales and the revenue coming in. You should try to keep your monthly burn-rate as low as possible, while constantly looking for areas to cut expenses, in an effort to always be above water.
“It’s important to establish a monthly expense budget, and do everything you can to stay at or below that number. Tracking all of your business expenses in one place is simple, thanks to accounting and invoicing software like FreshBooks. It’s easy to let the expenses pile up, so make it a habit to run a report weekly and cross-check them against your budget. Not every small business has a dedicated CFO, so take it upon yourself to be on the ball when it comes to your expense tracking and monitoring,” says Jim Vernon, CEO of RockHer.
Increased expenses are not always a bad sign—a surge in growth can cause expenses to increase, so when that happens be sure to adjust your budget goals accordingly.
Your website is essentially open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it’s very difficult to monitor all of your traffic in real-time. Where your traffic comes from, what it does while on your website and how long they stay before leaving, is all information that you can analyze and use to create a better user experience, leading to increased conversions and generated revenue.
“Google Analytics is the most common and user-friendly options available. It can be set up within minutes and their reporting is very easy to understand, even for small business owners that lack extensive experience. More advanced users can set up conversion reports that track the conversion path each sale takes, giving you even more valuable insight,” explains Ryan Koechel, VP of Marketing for ABODO.
You can monitor your Google Analytics and run reports from specific date ranges and view the information on screen, or you can export all of the data into a spreadsheet. There are several third-party applications available to enhance your Google Analytics reporting, but the standard free version is more than enough for most small businesses.
Social media provides small business owners with an amazing platform to promote and market their business, but it takes the right kind of content to connect with your audience. All of the major social media platforms—Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—have analytics available, which are free to access.
“Your social media analytics data will show you what content was the most popular and what content was not well received, which allows you to focus all of your social media energy on strategies that work to drive engagement and sales,” explains Saro Der Ohanesian, CEO of Vanguard Tax Relief.
There are so many aspects of a business that need to be analyzed and adjusted in order to experience forward progress. While these five reports are crucial, it’s not the only reporting that you should focus on.
As you get used to analyzing the data on a regular basis, you might add additional reports and even scale back the reporting frequency on some. Use the data to your advantage, leveraging it to make wise business decisions.