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Keeping Your Edge: The Importance of Information to Your Small Business

Many startups are born from a great business idea driven by the passion of individuals. However, as the fledgling enterprise grows, the aspect of running a business begins to take center stage to maintain success.

A key part of consistent success in business is winning the information battle. No matter what your product is, there’s bound to be competition. Even if you’ve created a niche for yourself through innovation or identifying a new target market, others are bound to take notice and enter the arena.

How do certain companies manage always to be a step ahead? Gathering relevant data and putting this information to good use is critical. Here are some important points.

Data analytics

Many entrepreneurs and leaders are familiar with the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis model. In reference to this model, data analytics can provide valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses. These are intrinsic properties of your organization; thus, it is fully under your control to maximize your strengths and address your weaknesses.

For example, analytics can reveal areas where your manufacturing process is inefficient. Digging down further, you can determine if this is a problem with specific personnel or a step in the process. Similarly, comprehensive sales data can indicate where the bulk of your orders are coming from – is it e-commerce or brick-and-mortar? If data shows that e-commerce is driving most of your sales, further improving your website interface or developing your app could yield a great return on investment.

Trend awareness

There are many ways of harvesting data to gain insights into the patterns and trends of your market. This sort of information creates opportunities; external factors that give you the chance to surge ahead and build an advantage over others in your field.

One high profile information battle we’ve all witnessed in our lifetime is in the mobile phone industry. Mobile design has witnessed shifts and trends, swinging from large, clunky units to extremely compact ones and now back to 5-6” bricks. We’ve seen numeric keypads and full QWERTY keyboards before today’s on-screen keyboards became standard. Industry leaders have come and gone, and currently, it’s the likes of Apple and Samsung that are battling to stay ahead in areas such as camera quality and display technology.

You don’t have to be a tech giant to take advantage of trends – they are relevant in every niche. From the basic customer survey to social media and more sophisticated online tools, seek out the best means to research and identify where your market is headed.

Track the competition

small trendy shop

You can’t reliably stay ahead of your competition without knowing them. They are among the most obvious threats in the SWOT model. Rarely do your competitors gain a customer without you losing one, and brand loyalty is a powerful force in any industry.

Information on what your competitors are doing is vital. Naturally, we’re not talking about corporate espionage or other illegal operations here. Simply following them on social media or deploying one of your staff to attend events can give useful insight into their direction and operations. A price tracking tool or paid market analysis can give you the ability to adjust and react to their moves and avoid losing ground.

Keeping ahead of the competition and achieving consistent results isn’t done based on luck and skill alone. It’s a sign that you have effectively harnessed the power of analytics, identifying trends, and edging out competitors to emerge as a leader in your industry.

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