Beware of data overload: Do not let analysis paralyze your business


There is often a feeling of jealousy between startups and big companies, at least in mutual admiration. Last year, I conducted a study to see their different ways, what I call the startups often desire for financial security, brand strength and great resources, the company set up the envy of vitality, response and greatly reduce the cost structure of start-ups.

But trying to be like everyone else is not always the right solution. I recently spoke to a renewable energy entrepreneur. In order to set up their own enterprise qualification, he and his co-founder “consciously trying to act like a big company” – to predict the conservative brand image, establish the correct process, and cooperation with leading technology providers and Banks. These strategies helped the company achieve a bit of success, but the business didn’t grow as quickly as expected. My guess is that success will come from adopting a more maverick approach.

As a start-up company or small and medium-sized enterprise, successfully competing with large companies is an asymmetric form of warfare. Small businesses know that their best way forward is not a full attack on an established competitor; It is about finding unprotected niche market, focus on big companies don’t want or could not be addressed by way of cost competitiveness of market, and tried to establish the company may find too risky new ideas. But it’s also important to focus on the way you work and adopt strategies that big companies can’t match.

What is the Achilles’ heel of a big company today? It’s a way of working – let’s call it elite management – to value in-depth expertise, careful analysis and systematic decision-making. Large companies are run by accountants and engineers. They like to go deep. They are tempted by big data and business analytics. They have compliance, security, regulation and audit functions to monitor their every move.

There is nothing wrong with meritocracy, but there is a dark side. This can lead to analysis paralysis – an impulse to collect data to ensure that all risks are addressed, at the cost of advance. It also breeds unhelpful decision-making – unwilling to consider any unquantifiable information.

As a small business, you have two key advantages. One is the ability to act decisively. Your focus and ability to act will always be stronger than your larger competitors.

Kelly Hoppen: “take risks and trust your instincts”

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The other is your ability to act emotionally based on your intuition or belief. Remember, during the eu referendum, when Michael gove says there are enough experts in this country? Fortunately, big companies are still welcomed by experts. You have more freedom to use your intuition or emotional arguments in ways that larger companies can’t.

In practice, this means you should:

Keep it simple and focused. The search costs are so low that you can collect basic market and price data and generate simple competitor intelligence within days. It’s enough to get you going.

Use reputable raw materials as much as possible. Try to get the underlying data through blogs and comment fragments.

Reflect on past decisions to guide you. Think about your previous job. In a world of too much information, it is helpful to make simple rules to reduce complexity.

Recognizing that some decisions can be based entirely on facts (such as A/B test for website design), others need to be judged. The best is a combination of the two.

Data collection is discussed separately. Many meetings are a waste of time because the purpose is not clear – some people think they are understanding the situation and others think they are trying to make a choice. Schedule a day after the meeting.

Use rapid prototyping and market testing. Always try to try out the user’s ideas in a low-risk way. By rolling out a minimal viable product, you’ll learn more, instead of repeatedly revising a smart business plan.

In today’s fast-changing world, the twin thrust of business success is decisive action and emotional conviction. Some big companies, such as amazon and Facebook, are good at this; Most mature companies have no hope. But as a small company, these attributes are part of your genetic makeup. Don’t lose them.