If you’re running a business you’ll soon learn it thrives on information. Ensuring a steady flow of data ironclads your decision-making, gives you a means of predicting outcomes of choices you have to make, and acts as a check on the natural bullish confidence or anxiety that send you into blind alleys or paralysis when you have an important decision to make.
What you need when you’re running a business are built in processes that mean when you need a vital fact, it’s there ready for you. It’s no good wanting to assess your business’ performance and only then starting to create the processes for measuring it. You need data and you need to be building in research and data gathering from day one so it’s part of the structure of your business. You need it to be baked in.
Inside and Out
There are two main aspects of your business that you need to gathering data on: your internal performance and processes and the world outside your business. Internal research is simple enough: ensuring teams and departments record targets and achievements gives you a good idea of your business’ overall capacity. It’s important to know this so you know just how much you can do. Taking on a big contract might be the making of your start up but if you don’t have the capacity to actually fulfil it, you’ve dug yourself into a hole you might not be able to get out of.
The more challenging side of data collection goes on outside your business: you have no reach there so you’ll need to partner up with a market research company to gather data on what’s going on beyond your immediate domain.
This requires time, investment and acquiring new skills but it’s well worth learning what an omnibus survey is, what a brand tracker is and why you need competitive research.
Learning what customers think of your brand, and what they want spend their money on lets you tune your approach to make sure you’re giving them the most attractive offering. If your customers have less money to spend and rate your brand highly for value it’s a bad time to start pushing a luxury line, to take one obvious example!
As with the most valuable research many of these efforts reveal their strengths over time – seeing how customers opinion of your brand fluctuates over the course of two years gives you a solid baseline to your decision making, that will only drive you towards new heights!