5 Best Practices for Small Business Data Collection
Data collection is critical for any small business. The data you collect can help you make better decisions about your customers, your marketing strategy, and even your overall business strategy. But collecting data can be a challenge, especially for small businesses.
No matter what industry or niche you’re in, one of the things that can make or break you is how you handle data collection. There are many different types of data collection such as survey questions, demographics questionnaires, customer data, web analytics, and more. The important thing is that you have a system in place to collect this data so you can use it to improve your business.
Failing to follow the best practices for data collection can have serious consequences such as decreased customer satisfaction, lower data quality, and even legal issues. Small businesses should focus on data collection as much, if not more, than bigger businesses because they don’t have the same resources to fall back on. A big business might be ok with losing a few invoices a month and can get by losing $10,000 in potential revenue. But can you afford to?
Here are a few best practices for small businesses to follow for successful data collection:
1. Create a Process for Data Management
There are many different methods of data collection, but the most important thing is to have a process in place. Whether you’re just getting started with your data collection efforts or refocusing them, this process should be repeatable and scale-able so that as you grow, you’re not having to reinvent the wheel each month.
There are many aspects to consider when creating your process for data collection such as:
- How will you collect the data?
- Who will be responsible for collecting the data?
- When will the data be collected?
- How often will the data be collected?
- What format will the data be collected in?
Avoiding time-consuming and costly mistakes is essential for small businesses. Defining the data set you need and how you will collect it from the outset will help save time and money down the line.
2. Be Consistent with Data Integrity
Data integrity is essential for small businesses. This means that the data you collect needs to be accurate and consistent. There are a few ways to ensure this:
- Use the same method of data collection each time: This could be surveys, customer feedback forms, web analytics, or something else.
- Create a data dictionary: This is a reference tool that defines all of the data points you’re collecting and how they should be used. This is especially helpful if you have multiple team members responsible for data collection.
- Use templates: Templates help to ensure that the data is collected in a consistent format. This makes it easier to analyze and use later on.
Stick to a time frame: Timing is everything when it comes to data collection. Make sure you’re collecting data at the same time each day, week, or month. This will help you spot trends over time.
Being consistent with your data collection methods is crucial so you can track efforts over time and have the ability to make business decisions based on insights you’re discovering.
3. Collect and Store Your Data Securely
It is important for small businesses to collect data and have a secure place to store it. You are probably collecting various types of information from your customers, partners, and employees, in addition to the data you track about your own business. Make sure you’re storing this securely. At GoCanvas, we help our clients store their data securely in the cloud, so there’s no need to worry about file cabinets or physical storage space.
4. Make Data Collection Simple
Another best practice for small business data collection is to make it as simple as possible for your workforce and/or your customers to get you the information you’re looking for. No one wants to fill out a 20-question survey, so try to keep things short and sweet. You can also use incentives to encourage participation in surveys or feedback forms.
Instead of asking people to fill out any paper forms at all, why not use online surveys to collect this information? You’ll get your raw data back in real-time quickly and securely, and you won’t have to deal with terrible handwriting, torn pages, or completely lost forms. Watch this video about how GoCanvas can help you go paperless and mobile with your data collection.
5. Evaluate and Improve Your Data Collection Process
As business owners, it’s important to set time aside to take a step back and evaluate your data collection efforts, as well as the data itself. Ask yourself what’s working and what’s not working in your data collection process. Analytics is one way to gain insight into what is working in your data and what is not.
By using the latest features and technologies (signature capture, integrations, GPS recording, barcode scanning, calculations, etc.) you can improve the quality of your data and make sure it is high-quality.
You might also find that one element of your data collection process is holding you back. Tightening the sales cycle in a small business is incredibly important for growth and sustainability.
Modernize the Way Your Small Business Collects Data
Now you can easily modernize the way you are collecting data for your small business. Whether you are looking to improve your data handling processes or advance reporting, we hope you consider using GoCanvas as your data collection tool. Sign up for GoCanvas free and give our platform a try today!