Have you ever wished that you were more data-driven? Have you found yourself in an embarrassing situation where you were asked to quantify the results of a certain campaign or marketing activity and weren't sure what to say? Does your heart feel like it's going to beat out of your chest when a colleague or investor wants to grill you about the numbers?
If that is you... please know you are not alone.
Many founders avoid talking about the numbers in their business. Or they leave data and analysis to the developers or other team members to worry about. This is a huge mistake.
In the conversations I have had with investors, a startup would not even be considered for investment unless the founder(s) had a strong command of the metrics their business is producing and a strong understanding of the market and forecasted performance.
But perhaps the most important reason to understand data and feel comfortable with it is that you can't improve what you don't measure-- and you can't glean insights from something you don't fully understand.
Now, I wouldn't consider myself a "numbers gal." In fact, my husband would say that our 3rd-grade son has a stronger command of basic math than I do. This storyline kept me stuck for years. It held me back in my career and, eventually, in growing my business.
The fact that I consider myself to be bad with numbers is the same excuse that makes so many of us avoid trying altogether. Especially, as women, this storyline is particularly strong. Many founders I have worked with leave the finances and data to their male counterparts or teammate. This perpetuates the story that women aren't as data-driven as men-- and could possibly be contributing to the measly 2% of VC funding that went to women in 2021.
With stats like that, it is our duty as women to rise to the challenge and get savvy with numbers, data, and finances. And here are 3 tips that I have used to become more data-driven myself.
3 Ways to Develop a Data-Driven Mindset
Ask "How will I measure this:" Bringing metrics to the front of your mind and constantly asking yourself how any action or initiative in your business could be measured is the key to understanding performance. In order to develop this habit, I started using the affirmation "I am a data-driven person" every morning before I started work. This small act helped to plant into my subconscious the need to measure and learn on a daily basis. Learning a little bit every day over a period of time is a great way to build confidence. Also, it's important to note that this way of thinking doesn't come naturally to everyone. It certainly doesn't for me. It is a learned skill and you can master it by going slow and not shaming or overwhelming yourself. Stay curious.
Visualize your data: When it comes to building visual models, I like creating everything as a funnel that pulls data from any marketing activity -- like a landing page, advertisement, or organic social activity-- through to revenue. This is a really easy place to start and the only way to truly understand marketing channel performance. What is stressful about data is that there is so much at our fingertips. You can go very granular on almost everything in your business and new software and ways of aggregating and analyzing data are being invented all the time. That is why I like to start wide and work my way inward slowly and intentionally. You can start to pull the yarn as you ask questions and stay focused on a particular problem.
Digest other businesses' metrics: How do you know if your results are good or bad?! A great place to start is by looking at your competitors or similar business models and understanding their data benchmarks. You'd be surprised what you can find with a quick google search. I've had an easy time finding EOY reports, investor decks, and all sorts of great information across various industries. There are also other great resources like CrunchBase, SEMrush, and Owler.
There are plenty of benefits that come from developing a data-driven mindset. Namely, you'll become better at improving performance, both personally and professionally. As you become more comfortable with the process of gathering and analyzing data, it will become easier to spot patterns, diagnose problems, and create effective solutions.
Take a listen!👇🏻
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Victoria is a Marketing Mentor to early-stage founders. She has built compelling brands around the globe and has worked as a marketing director across several verticals. She is passionate about helping women think BIGGER about their businesses and giving them the tools to grow. She'd love to connect on LinkedIn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.