Saturday, September 8, 2012

Working Smarter: Where do you get your business intelligence?

Are you a wise owl or do you lack skills in business intelligence?

In today's business world it's important to know who is doing what, when, where, how, and why. If you don't understand your competition and your clients, you will fall behind. One reason why businesses start up and after a few months fold up is because they don't understand their external environment.

Good business startup practices include a business evaluation that answers important questions like:
  1. does anyone want your proposed service or product?
  2. who are your potential clients?
  3. what volume of sales are feasible?
  4. what competition do you face?
Once you get your business up and running, you need to have an ongoing program of intelligence gathering so you can keep on top of things. Depending on your business type, there are various sources you can keep an eye on to get your intelligence.

Australia's First Bank, Westpac Banking Corporation has a team of employees that does nothing but surf the Internet looking for information about Westpac and it's competitors. Obviously Westpac has more funds than a corner coffee shop, so most businesses don't have the luxury of full time staff to gather business intelligence on their behalf.

However, there's no reason why you can't set aside a few hours every week to do some surfing of your own. If you did own a coffee shop, you'd like to know what coffee brands are favourite of the month; what coffee are people buying, flat whites, capuccino; when are they most likely to buy? Answers to these questions will help you manage and organize your business so that you get your share of the market.

Businesses use Facebook, Twitter, other social media sites, Google Alerts, search engines and customer feedback, among other things, to find out what is happening in their marketplace.

If you aren't getting your business intelligence from somewhere, you'll be rowing north when everyone else is rowing west. Whatever you do in business, you will improve your performance if you habitually and invariably gather relevant business intelligence.

Do you have a business intelligence gathering program? If so, tell us how you go about gathering your intelligence.

Robin



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