Data Disabler: “My cannabis business data is too dirty”

Key Highlights:

  • Any “live” or “production” data is clean enough to put to work
  • “Too dirty” often means “don’t trust” – if you don’t trust your own numbers, a good data toolkit can empower you to build that trust
  • If you are an active licensed cannabis business that is currently growing, manufacturing, and/or selling products, you can earn more and stress less by mastering your data

The Data Disablers series was created in response to certain misconceptions or severely limiting thoughts that disable the value of your data.  These phrases often act as distractions and excuses from actually putting your data to work for you.  If you hear yourself or someone on your team say these phrases, stop immediately and exclaim “Data Disabler!!”, then follow the steps below to start generating value and power from your data.

If your business is live, your product and profit data is real

To know if you can pay rent, utilities, your employees, and yourself, you need to know how much money your business is earning, your revenue, by selling which goods, your products, how much you paid to provide those products, your costs.

Your total profit, all the money you make from selling your products minus what it cost you to grow / make / resell that product, depends on all of the following variables (and many more):

  • How many units you sold
  • How many different products you carry
  • The price of each product sold
  • Deals, discounts, or coupons
  • The cost to grow, or wholesale cost, of raw flower
  • The cost to manufacture, or licensing out manufacturing, of concentrates & infused products
  • The cost to operate a retail storefront (if selling to consumers) or a sales and account management team (if selling to businesses)

Simply put, by having your lights on and making or selling product, your business is generating a lot of incredibly valuable information that you can use to quickly and profitably inform future decisions.  From the data you’re already entering into METRC (or any other seed-to-sale) to your financial data in Quickbooks (or any other account software) to your POS or any internal spreadsheets – your team is generating a lot of data that can make your job and your life easier.

So the absolute first thing to get out of the way: when someone asks us “When should I start tracking my data or running reports?” the answer is always “Are you actively growing, making, or selling product right now? Then you should start tracking that growing, making, or selling right now!”

But, my cannabis data is too dirty …

Every time we hear “my data is too dirty” it always makes us laugh – what does dirty data look like anyway?  Does it get hung out to dry, like dirty underpants? Or does it get washed out with soap, like a dirty mouth? Or does it become distracting and unproductive, like a dirty mind?

In our experience, “dirty data” is usually a keyword for one of three very distinct, but related, scenarios:

  1. The data that is entered is consistent, correct and valid, but not all the data is there so you (correctly) understand that the current snapshot is not a complete picture
  2. All the data is entered, and you trust it to be valid, but it’s full of inconsistent spellings, simple mistakes, or other small annoying differences that make the data hard to organize and analyze
  3. The data is entered correctly and consistently, and you think all of it is there, but for whatever reason, you just don’t trust it

More often than not, when folks say “my data is too dirty” they don’t actually mean the data set is incomplete or the data integrity is poor, they usually mean that they simply don’t trust the data.  For the sake of completeness, though, let’s walk through how to address each of these scenarios:

  1. If the process for entering data is good, but not all the data has been entered, then it’s time to buckle down and get the rest of the necessary information into your software or system.  Expand your training for existing employees, or hire fresh talent, to bridge the gap on entering the information you need to run your business. You can only manage what you measure, so it’s important to measure everything that you need to manage.A good data toolkit will be a collaborative partner and accept any data source or format to help organize and activate your data.  At Cannabis Big Data, for example, we integrate directly with any software or spreadsheet to automatically sync your data behind the scenes every night.  Also, a good data toolkit can help you quickly identify any areas that still have gaps in time or information to prioritize team efforts. Now that’s helpful!
  2. If your team is doing a good job entering all the data, but it’s full of errors or mistakes, then you may need to adjust your data entry tool as well as offer some data training.  For the data tool, one of the most common mistakes is to have a free entry field instead of a drop down field that only allows specific entries. Trust me, if you let folks type it in, they’ll find 15 different ways to spell OG Kush.  If you’ve already simplified and cleaned up the data entry screen, you may consider creating an FAQ or “Frequent mistakes” document that trains the team on the most common errors. Even if you only take a couple of hours to write up and train your team, it’ll save countless time and frustration in the coming months and years.A productive data toolkit will quickly and clearly identify any inconsistencies, as well as embrace change by frequently reloading the latest and greatest updates to product names, categories, and anything else.  Most importantly, a valuable data toolkit will celebrate success by showcasing when cleanup is complete and your data is online and actionable.
  3. If you simply don’t trust your data, for whatever reason, this is a really big deal!  Think about this for a moment: your business is live, but you don’t trust your numbers, so you’re like a driver without a map or a steering wheel.  Worse still, you have a map, but you don’t trust that map so you look at it but refuse to follow what appears to be the best route. This wastes a tremendous amount of your time, causes frustration on your team, and unnecessary friction in the process of growing, making, or selling your products.An empowering data toolkit will help you isolate what specific elements of your data do you not trust, why, and how to get you to a place of trust.  That may cycle back to #1 or #2 above as you learn your lack of trust is grounded in real systemic limitations. You may iterate on filling in and cleaning up your systems until you do, genuinely, trust that everything is correct.  Or, as is more often the case, you may learn that you have no idea why you didn’t trust the data before and, now that you see everything in a clear and intuitive format, it makes a lot more sense and you suddenly trust the numbers. What a powerful and relieving moment to finally trust your team, your data, and yourself!

My cannabis business is too small to afford looking at the data

Nothing could be further from the truth!  In fact, if anything, smaller cannabis businesses that have low volume need to be even smarter about their margins so that they can stay competitive with larger competitors.  Most importantly, even the biggest cannabis businesses out there are not effectively putting their data to work for them, so smaller teams stand to win a strong advantage by using a data toolkit made for big business but simple enough for small shops.

Overall, every legal cannabis business is actively generating a tremendous amount of data that can be incredibly powerful in driving business decisions.  These improve decisions can increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve efficiencies in a way that instills diligence and peace of mind for you and your team.  A good data toolkit has an immediate ROI, and then continues to over dividends and continued growth on your investment over time.

So the next time you hear someone say “our data is too dirty” just make sure you never let them be a data disabler.  Your data is NOT dirty (and it doesn’t like it when you call it that anyway) – it has a tremendous amount of value and, as soon as you can find your way to trust it, your data will begin to show you the wonders of your business in ways you never knew possible.

Do you have a clear idea of your current challenges and opportunities?  Do you need help figuring out how best to clean up your data? We always love to hear from you on our contact page and are happy to give you an unbiased perspective on who will best serve your needs.  If you’d like to chat about your specific business and needs, feel free to schedule a free data consultation.

We firmly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, and if we can help you (and our data peers) succeed in this rapidly growing market, it is our honor and pleasure to do so.

Still not sure how to put your data to work for you?  Let us help.

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2018-09-11T12:07:50-07:00