The importance of data in our world today is largely underrated, every system on the globe largely depends on data; government, education, healthcare, technology, business, agriculture amongst others all depend on data. Data can be represented by the littlest piece of information about anything, our data pretty much determines the way we run our lives daily and paying more attention to your personal data is something that can prove to be very beneficial.

Data is oxygen, meaning that we cannot do without data. Your data can help you grow or burn. Every business is built on data, and while most startups focus on raising funds and making more money, they need to pay more attention to how they use data.

As a startup, data represents all the information you have on your user base, from the names, emails or phone numbers of your users to how frequently or the manner at which particular users use your service. Depending on how you deal with your data, it can improve your service, and also cause a decline if you do not pay the right attention to it.

Paying attention to your data can mean taking simple steps such as refactoring what data you take, checking if your data is being used the right way, taking notice of simple details such as user preferences while using your service, collecting the right data for the right purposes, backing up your database for safety or even checking if you get your data from the right sources. Properly informed data decisions can make you give your users surveys to get better details, or even do things like sending your users birthday messages.

There are lots of examples of startups or businesses using data in right and wrong ways. Today, e-commerce websites show users products based on their similarity with products the user has previously purchased, bank ATM’s pop up the last amount you withdrew and ask “would you like to withdraw this again?” immediately you slot in your card. Concepts such as facial recognition and geo-tagging are now commonly used on social networks. A lot of services now ask for users to partake in surveys to improve service delivery.

In running a startup, data and trust go hand in hand, in that your data is the pool of users you own and trust is the key reason why your users still stick around, both data and trust are two largely underrated concepts in the startup world so they both get to be used wrongly.

Most startups define their primary goal to be acquiring users and making more sales. While these are two very good goals, we should not forget that no startup can succeed or exist without trust. Trust is essential to building a business. As a startup, your users have to trust you to use your service.

Today, startups and tech companies have taken trust for granted for a while. The most recent showing of this is the Facebook data leak. Losing trust is expensive too, Facebook lost about $80 billion in a span of one month.

The aftermath of the data loss led to twitter campaigns moving to end Facebook with the hashtag #EndFacebook trending internationally multiple times. Multiple Facebook users started deleting accounts as they had lost their trust in Facebook. This shows just how important trust and data can be.

Data, like oxygen, can help your startup grow, and also cause it to burn. Below are some questions you need to start asking as a startup to help you deal with your data the right way:

1. How do you request data from customers/users?

Checking how you request data from your users is key to switching things up a bit. You might want to respect users’ consent each time you strategize a means of extracting data. So, your users don’t feel like you’re robbing them of their privacy or knowing just too much. Giving users the ability to opt in and out of data options is key.

2. Who is the data from?

Keeping records of who in particular your data is coming from can be very pivotal. You need to be able to classify data according to particular segments of your customer base. There are a couple of positives this can prove to have on your business. For instance, when you collect data specifically from a particular segment, you can make informed decisions that will only affect that segment of your customer base.

3. How much data do you collect?

This is one of those very confrontational but also very important questions. You would be surprised at the amount of resources you would lose due to a data overload. This is especially because the excesses in data prove to be not very useful. Managing data isn’t an easy task, and it only gets even more difficult when the size of that data is off the roof.

4. What kind of data do you collect?

It’s important to not just have all kinds of data laying around for no reason. You need to properly analyze your business needs to find out what data is important to you. If you go about taking every bit of information you can, you’ll end up having a huge pile of information that will be of no use to you. Filtering the data you collect is useful in the sense that it helps you give the right correspondence for the right purposes. It is really not just about having a whole lot of data, it’s about knowing what data is meant for what purpose.

5. How long do you keep data?

Data is subject to change. This means that overtime, you would find out that some of the data you keep will lose its credibility. This is actually due to very natural events such as name changes, document expiration, gender transitions, relationship status changing, and more. Meaning that Mr John can one day decide to change his name to James, and if you have Mr John registered in your database, you simply have the wrong guy.

This is where a great need for innovation comes in. You will need to devise a method to keep your old data true at all times, this means having to do away with data which has lost its integrity. This also means that the old data will have to be recycled to something new and true.

A method you could use to this is by regularly engaging with your customer base through a wide range of different mediums including; Email Marketing, Online Forums, Social Media, and even regular checks on them. You will find out that doing these things will have a whole lot of other positive outcomes for your business.

6. How secure is the data?

Keeping your data safe is just as important as anything else when running a startup. Losing your data could run you into a negative loop that could range from lawsuits, to the loss of your whole business. To avoid this, you need to make sure to use systems that are well secure and fail proof. In addition to this, you will need to continually make checks to be sure that your systems stay up to date.

The need to secure your data can not be overemphasized and you would need to allocate good resources to this cause.

7. Where/How do you store data?

Your method of data storage is just as important as the data itself. Where and how you store your data determines how accessible the data will be, and how safe it will stay while it is stored. You need to be intentional about every decision you make especially when it has something to do with your data.

When you choose a reliable means of storing data, you wouldn’t need to worry about any of the headaches associated with access or security of your data. However, you would still need to keep up with updates to keep your data safe.

8. How to disclose problems/ data theft?

When you run into data problems, you would need to find a way to keep your customer base in the loop. Asides from keeping them in the loop, you also need to have a backup plan you can always fall back to when things go south.

Knowing how to deal with data problems/theft would always keep you a step ahead in the case of emergencies. In some cases, you can even have up to two backups to keep you extra safe. While this may cost you more, it can also prove to be a lifesaver when the need arises.

All the questions above are often difficult to find answers to most times, but addressing would save your startup a lot, and help build the trust you need to grow as a business. A business that has trust going for it, would eventually go on to build a huge customer base of people that trust the business. In business, this level of relationship with customers can not be traded with anything else.

Written By:

Jerry Uke

Jerry Uke

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