Small Businesses and Data Science: Are freelance experts the missing link?

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If your dream of owning a small business has come true, then perhaps you are looking forward to the next nightmare – expanding your small business. Irrespective of the direction chosen for expansion, whether targeting a new market or trying to win a new contract, most entrepreneurs today agree that their expansion efforts would benefit from the insights offered by data science. The data collected from sales, operations and trends on social media are increasingly valued to develop business intelligence.

Hiring a data scientist as an employee may seem an expensive proposition. As a business owner who wears multiple hats, an entrepreneur may be tempted to adopt DIY-approach and may try to learn how to analyze the data. Some firms, such as Jetpac who use a creative approach, accomplish small data projects through contests on various data related public forums. But instead, hiring an expert data scientist will give bigger bang for the buck. An expert data scientist, equipped with a doctoral degree and appropriate work experience, can help an entrepreneur to further understand the available data.

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Here are top three reasons for small businesses to hire an expert freelance data scientist:

1] Flexibility:

For a small business, the needs related to data science might be still evolving. For instance, a taxi company may want to use data from flight and weather information to plan their rides. The budget allocated for data analysis projects may be limited. Often there is a significant time gap between two data analysis projects during which retaining a full time data scientist may not be feasible. Hiring a freelance expert on a project basis will provide the much-needed flexibility for the small businesses. Instead of a salary, the fees for a freelancer expert are often based on milestones delivered. This method of payment can be offer additional flexibility to a cash-crunched small business.

2] Reduce ‘the hiring burden’:

Many small businesses may have an understaffed human resources department. Efforts to hire a new employee (for instance, interviewing, hiring, and providing them new-hire-orientation) can be time consuming. Some companies use data visualization apps, such as Roambi, instead of hiring an expert. But apps may not be able to meet business specific data analysis needs. Hiring an expert data scientist from a virtual marketplace for freelancers can significantly reduce the burden of hiring process. A virtual marketplace may have data scientist with varied level of expertise. To further weed out novice data analysts, some small businesses are choosing virtual marketplaces that feature professionals with doctoral degrees exclusively.

3] Retaining talent:

Businesses are eager to gain insight into their customers’ lifestyle by analyzing the data from variety of resources such as social media or wearable devices. This business trend has opened up many opportunities for data scientists. Retaining data scientists has become harder, even for big firms, as data analytics is a sought-after skill. Data scientists, who seek novel problems to solve, appreciate challenges faced by start-ups and are willing to act as consultants on data projects. Although small businesses may not have resources to retain a data scientist, they can benefit from hiring a freelance data scientist.

To sum up, small business owners need not struggle for their data science related requirements. Hiring a freelance expert is a solution that may fit within available resources. Entrepreneurs can let go of the DIY-approach for ‘data analysis issues’ and stay focused on tasks that require their entrepreneurial skills.

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About Author

Aditi is an expert in the field of mind-body interactions. After completing a PhD in Human Physiology from the University of Oregon, her research focused on physiological changes associated with emotional blunting and stress. Apart from science, she is interested in food writing, art and art history.

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