Business Fundamentals for Data Professionals

The best data professionals aren't people who are great at SQL and data modeling and all the other technical things alone.

The best data analysts — the ones who rise! — are the usually the ones who are best able to communicate with the business end of things.

They understand the organization.

They're easy to talk to.

They know how to give their business colleagues the data they need, without too much struggle.

When you look at your career like this, you'll begin to see that the data analyst career path really consists of two skill buckets:

  1. Data analytics itself — meaning, the ability to write good SQL, and do modeling, and manage data quality, and all the things we think about when we talk about the technical side of the business.
  2. But also communication skills — how you communicate to business people, and how you give them what they really want to know, not just what they're asking for.

In business, communication skills hinge on an ability to understand the fundamentals of business.

The Posts

This is a series on the latter skill bucket. We talk about business fundamentals from first principles, and explain everything with the data analyst in mind.

  1. Developing an Intuitive Understanding of the SaaS Quick Ratio — An explanation of SaaS Quick Ratio and why it is important. Written with the data analyst in mind.
  2. Why Measuring Cash Flow is More Important Than Measuring Profitability — Why your CEO is obsessed with cash flow, and what you can do to help, as an analytics person in your company.
  3. How To Use The Ladder of Inference When Communicating Data To Your Business Users — The ladder of inference is a powerful tool that describes how people see the world. Here's how to use it when communicating insights to your business people.
  4. The Magic Money Machine Model — An introduction to 'return on invested capital', the most foundational worldview in business.
  5. How Metrics Change When Your Company Grows — What metrics matter when your companies go through the three stages of growth, and why this matters when seen through the lens of ROIC.
  6. Measurement Before Product Market Fit — The first stage of growth in a startup's life is the product stage, where the business is attempting to find a product or service that a customer is willing to buy. We take a look at the kinds of metrics that are useful at this stage, and then examine the philosophical approach to measuring things at this stage.
  7. Understanding the Scale Stage — The scale stage is the second of three stages in a startup's life. In this post, we discuss what product-market fit means, and then we look at healthy growth (the kind that leads to winning) and unhealthy growth (the kind that leads to company death).
  8. Measuring A Company When A Company Is Mature — For the final post in this series, we take a look at the business fundamentals of the operations stage — the last of three stages in a company's life.