Use Data Wisely
Use Data Wisely
In every line of business, you can leverage data to extract extra value. In fact, data manipulation could possibly become one of your most fundamental business processes.
For example, if you were to become a real estate investor, you could study market trends with help from computer database queries. When you have collected all available data on the properties sold in your target region, you could easily import that information into a variety of databases, and then merge it with the standard Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data set, which is the most fundamental and up-to-date data that real estate brokers and agents rely on to conduct commerce.
Next, you could assign various field names (like neighborhood, average income, growth rate of community, recent sale prices in neighborhood, school quality, distance to subway, highway and shopping, and so forth) to classifications of data and thereby effectively store and manage the characteristics of each record.
Then you can browse and run queries on the data to start discovering market trends and inefficiencies that haven’t been fully exploited by your entrenched competitors. If you’ve discovered statistical anomalies in your market that others have overlooked, or failed to leverage appropriately, your business will have an advantage to exploit these opportunities.
It could be of benefit if the category of data you require doesn’t exist currently in the marketplace. You could have an extra strategic advantage by developing and controlling the data set and being a “first mover” in the market niche that you have been studying. If the data already exists where you can easily find areas of low hanging fruit to exploit, you need to start using it in a faster, more effective way than the competition.
Understanding information about your clients and prospective clients is critical. So document and study the data on their spending habits, demographic and business information, subjective notes, and so on over a long period to gain valuable insight and act accordingly.
Keeping in mind how essential data is to your business, the ways that you store data are equally important. Nowadays, a filing cabinet will not suffice for all your documents since most of them are probably electronic, or will be as technologies develop.
You’ll need a very simple, flexible, and scalable system with secure access for your authorized staff. If possible, you should try to have all documents stored electronically and make sure new documents and data are “backed up” daily in a separate, secure location.
It’s important that you can instantly find all of the documents that you use to manage your business which includes any contracts and Best Practices documents. Furthermore, your paper and electronic documents should all be named in the same type of syntax or manner, and possibly alphanumerically coded if you produce a particularly high volume.
Giving your documents long names with applicable keywords will likely make them easier to find when sought on-line or in print. There is free software called X1 (www.x1.com) that you should use to immediately find any data on your hard drive.
Cryptic document naming would make it hard to find what you are seeking. Thus, naming should be done using plain words. Likewise, subject lines in e-mails and memos should include the topic and project at issue, so your system is organized and information is easy to store, sort, and find for future use.
Another effective medium of distributing documentation is through Adobe PDF where you can practically create an exact copy of any document, fax, graphic representation, and the like. This can then be easily e-mailed around and printed in its original form.
We recommend you also use an on-line fax service, such as eFax and Phone.com fax service, so all of your faxes can be stored on-line and in e-mail format.
New telecommunications technologies incorporating Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) into a virtual office, which stores all of your messages and other telecom related information, will be critical in the near future. To simplify telecom management, try Phone.com.
Yet another important strategy in gathering data is to keep notepads and small digital recorders handy in your car, bedroom, or anywhere else you may be so you can document any ideas, Best Practices, or to-do items that you think of when you are not near your computer.
You should keep all of your ideas and information documented and at hand for further review. At the fast pace you will be working, you can’t attempt to memorize everything that crosses your plate. So find a way to get it in text, audio, video, database, CRM, and so forth before it slips your mind.
For e-commerce purchases, Overstock.com is an easy, user-friendly, and cost effective way to get what you need. EBay, Amazon, Staples.com, Costco.com, Buy.com, and plenty of other well-respected sources can also get electronics and office products to your door overnight so you can improve your productivity the next day.