This post is sponsored by Staples.
One of the benefits of writing a weekly column as I do for USA TODAY is that I get to be in the loop when it comes to the latest and greatest tips, ideas, products, apps, and services coming down the pike for small business. As a result, at the start of every year, I take a look into my trusty crystal ball and examine the top small business trends that I see on the horizon.
This past year’s list turned out to be very interesting, with things like the changing nature of work, the Uber economy, and online security concerns taking center stage.
That said, the very first trend I spoke about in that column this year was what I called “Big data for small business”:
The best way to think of big data is analytics. Your business produces a lot of information, information that is rich with clues about what is working and what is not. “Big data” in this sense is simply a way to gather, analyze, and utilize your many metrics. For instance, for the small business, big data may include:
- Financial analytics
- Social media metrics
- Sales data
- Customer info
- And so forth
The real trick these days is not generating the data, but capturing it and being able to use it.
And that really is the thing, is it not? Yes, we as small business people know that we create a lot of data – that is not the question. Rather, the question actually is – how to we capture that data and easily be able to understand what it means?
This is where Staples comes in. I have worked with Staples on and off for many years now. One of the things that always impresses me is its commitment to small business. My pals at Staples are always innovating, looking to find easier, better and cheaper ways for we small business people to work and succeed.
And they did it again.
I want to introduce you to the Staples Quick Wins app. I have been using Quick Wins for several months now and it swiftly became one of my favorite tools. Quick Wins is an easy-to-use phone app that quickly captures your big data, analyzes it, and then displays it in ways that make understanding and taking action on it very simple.
When I want to see how traffic is doing on my site, Quick Wins tells me. When I need to see how many Twitter followers I gained in any given week, Quick Wins is the fastest place to see that. And when I want a quick snapshot of sales data for the month, the app is where I turn.
It is, well, a quick win for my small business, and I bet it will be for yours too.
Quick Wins takes the pain out of capturing and understanding your metrics. Specifically, the app can gather the following info:
- Twitter, Facebook, and other social media engagement and metrics
- Website traffic
- Google Analytics
Once you enter your login credentials for those various platforms, then the fun begins. The app provides you with business specific actionable analytics and information in three ways:
1. Metrics: Once Quick Wins has done its magic, you will easily be able to view your key business metrics in one mobile place. It is great to see that your website traffic is up by 18% this month, or your social media engagement is down by 7%, or whatever. The point is, these numbers are no longer lost to the ether – Quick Wins captures and analyzes them for you.
2. Suggestions: What good is data with out knowing what to do with it? Quick Wins offers suggestions on ways to make your metrics better, based upon what the app sees you doing in your business. This curated content is specific to the issues you might be having.
3. Community: Finally, and this is something really cool, the app allows you to access and interact with a community of like-minded small business owners. One of the real challenges that I see consistently for many small business owners is that they too often operate in a vacuum; there frequently is not much opportunity in the way of feedback. The Quick Wins app helps alleviate this issue too by giving users the ability to interact with each other via the Quick Wins community.
In an era where it is too often big businesses that get the big data attention, Quick Wins is the antidote and solution for the small business.
Big data comes in small packages too.