For most entrepreneurs, having a plan of attack for launching a start-up is pretty straightforward.
In your mind you build a vision of what your product should be and then go through a process of ticking boxes to get your idea to market as soon as possible.
Market research: tick. Business plan: tick. Developing a minimum viable product: tick. It’s go-time for launch! But now what?
After the energy and excitement of your launch has passed it becomes a lot trickier to decide on where to focus your time and your bootstrapped budget.
Some may have amazing launches and experience Facebook-like growth, while others may struggle to get even a few clicks.
In both cases, however, success could be determined by the next decisions you make, so you should always strive to know exactly what you are doing well and where you’re failing miserably.
After all, if your sales are going through the roof but you don’t know why, then how will you keep it going?
As practically everything online these days can be tracked, I am a big believer in data-driven decisions. To be able to make the right decisions, you need to have the right tools at your disposal to capture and analyse everything that’s happening on your apps.
Good decisions based on solid facts will help you optimise your business and can logically determine how you run things from a product, resource, and mental effort standpoint.
Here are a few key points that might help you in your start-up. I refer to this as the “IIRUS approach” (just in case the modern world needed yet another acronym):
Find all the important metrics – you’ve probably already listed these in your business plan so make sure you capture what you need to stay on top of them.
Put in place analysis and tracking tools as early as possible – time is an important factor as even though you may not make use of the data today, in six months’ time you might look back and wish you had all that historical data.
Just performing the exercise of taking time out to step back and measure your business metrics will help to support your gut instincts with real, solid data (or tell you that you were completely wrong).
Pretty self-explanatory, but any amount of reporting will be useless if you don’t actually use the results to guide your decisions.
Seek advice often
Not knowing what decision to make is pretty common in start-ups but it’s the nature of the game.
Try to find mentors who can give you real-world advice and take your business to the next level.
A good example of using data to drive business decisions occurred when we analysed the performance of our web app.
While our site loaded quickly enough, one of our most visited pages was showing some atrocious performance metrics; due to the amount of content on the page it was taking 8-9 seconds on average to load!
As improving website responsiveness is intangible, it’s not often high on a brand’s priority list. But with so many sites available today, every millisecond users spend waiting for a page to load could potentially frustrate users, or worse, cause users to abandon the site.
So, we decided to drop everything we were working on and focus solely on improving the performance of this page.
While we’re a small team with competing priorities, we chose to focus on improving our product to drive long-term growth.
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