Why Data Visualization Can Help Small Business Owners Make Better Decisions

by / Thursday, 03 July 2014 / Published in Small Business Advice

Business Graphs and Charts

The term “data visualization” refers to the presentation of data gathered during the operation of a business in a format that is represented through images. Commonly the types of charts include bar graphs, pie charts which many business owners probably remember learning about in grade school. Apart from these basic types of charts, business owners can also use spider graphs to organize their thoughts, tree shaped graphs or pyramid graphs to denote managerial hierarchies, and other forms of charts that will allow them to see the data that they need to manipulate in a clear and intuitive way.

There are many softwares that can assist in data manipulation for small business owners. Mind42 is a free website that allows for the creation of spider charts, or “mind maps” that can help business owners organize departments, project management tasks and other components where groups are centered around focal nodes. Lucid Charts is a program that business owners can use limited on a free basis, with subscription packages that can increase the functionality of the program. This tool is great since it allows business owners to choose from a much wider range of charts to collect and analyze many more types of data than would be effective with a single chart type alone.

Why visualize data? The brain is a complex and nuanced organ, and sometimes it helps to approach a single problem from many different angles. When a business owner simply thinks about a problem and turns it over in their mind, or is orally relayed sales numbers as opposed to numbers from last year, they understand and can use the information, but their grasp of it is still fundamentally one dimensional. To take the same information and to put it into a format that is visual allows them to think about it with a different perspective, and it it when many perspectives are brought together that many people tend to do their strongest thinking as well as allow for the  broadest range of possible solutions.

Even without software, a pen and paper can create data visualizations. All that a small business owner really needs in order to start visualizing their data is a novel way of representing it and the means to put it on paper. It may be beneficial to carry a notepad and a pen in order to expand the way that problems are thought of and addressed on the go.

Photo Credit to Hank Stroll on Flickr

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