People close to me know that I ask a lot of questions. This is not because I just delight in asking them but it is because I do not like to assume things. Especially when you assume wrongly regarding foundational and formative aspects you will be in for a rude awakening. Assumptions always culminate in problems, pain and disappointments. This is a truth that rings true in any area of life and as such applies to the business world. You must always seek to be empirical in your approaches so that you make well-informed decisions. A simple definition of empirical is to derive from experimentation and observation as opposed to just theory. In running your business this must be your culture!
Experiment And Observe
In running a business you must find out ways in which you can test certain metrics to draw insights. Those insights will help you make informed decisions. All the metrics involved in running a business can be tested. Some of those are marketing channels, communication channels, buying patterns and so much more. Often times in business we assume that we know certain things about certain aspects yet we could be wrong. The best thing to do is to experiment and observe. I would encourage you to come up with experiments or tests that run for a short period. The sooner you know the better which is why it is expedient to make the experiments short term.
The Basics Of Experimentation
Remember what I said at the very beginning – the thrust is to move away from assumptions. Here is what is interesting though, an assumption can be an excellent starting point to an experiment. An assumption can form the basis of a hypothesis. A hypothesis is basically something that is not yet verified but if found to be true can explain certain phenomena. In short, you can say it is a testable statement. There are broadly two ways in which you can approach an assumption. One, you can test it as I have just been saying OR you can bet on it. The latter means you will just act on it without seeking to find out if it is really true or not. I do encourage you to test every assumption you might have in your business.
A Practical Example
There are so many ways in which you can experiment but I will just use one practical example so that you get the picture. Let us suppose that you want to see which social media platform is the best for publicizing your brand. You can consider Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. You then formulate an ad and tailor it for each respective platform. You go on to decide in what duration it is going to run e.g. a week. You could boost all the 3 ads in order to create a semblance of uniformity.
After a week you then check the analytics data to see how each of the 3 ads performed. From that data, you will be able to know which platform reached more people amongst many other useful insights. From then on you can focus on the platform that generated more results and zone in to really know people’s touchpoints. Essentially, the principle of experimentation means you continually refine the process to gain more knowledge – it is not an event.
The moment you start doing this and doing it regularly you will find yourself being a guru in change management. You will always be on top of emerging trends and being abreast with market dynamics at any point. You must leverage on analytics of social media platforms because they help you to have detailed data in your experiments. The example I have used is a very simple one but types of experiments you can run can be more complex than that.
Entrepreneurs tend to deal with generalized insights that might not necessarily be true to their context. For instance, there might be a generally held insight that placing ads on Facebook is more effective than any other platform. Depending on your line of business and the type of audience you appeal to, Instagram might be more effective, for example. How then will you know if you just assume and not experiment or test? Neil Degrasse Tyson, one the world’s famous Astrophysicists recently said “Search engines on the internet are the epitome of confirmation bias. And you are going to use that as evidence that you are correct? No!” That is especially true in the business world so make it your business culture to run your business empirically and stop assuming!