If you’re running a business, you need to be constantly chasing success: standing still is a recipe for being overtaken by competitors who aren’t slowing down. The constant chase after the next big milestone leaves you open to errors, though: if you’re not interrogating your choices you could find yourself overextended: borrowing money to expand into markets where you won’t find demand, or eagerly signing a contract with a big new client who it transpires cannot pay everything they promised.
Today we’re looking at the most important thing you can do to make sure your pursuit of the next big milestone for your business isn’t dragged down by risks that compromise your company in the long run.
Data, Data, Data
Sherlock Holmes always called for data for his deductive processes, saying “I can’t make bricks without clay”. You need to do the same and make data the fundamental building material of your decision-making process.
There are lots of different sources you need to be gathering data from to help you make good decisions, but they can broadly be broken down into internal data, that is, about your own business and its performance, and external data, about the market you’re operating in, from consumers to rival businesses.
It’s relatively easy to gather data on your own business, especially if you build in processes to do it from the ground up, rather than imposing them at a later date. Knowing the load your customer service team can take at any one time, the speed at which your sales team can find and convert leads and so on means you can take decisions confident in the knowledge that your business has the capacity to make good on them.
It’s harder to get reliable data on the state of the market outside your business. You don’t have the scope to reach consumers who aren’t already choosing your brand, or to make guesses about your rivals may be planning.
Picking a market research firm to work with gives you access to experts who can get you this information. Brand tracker surveys give you a vital way to ‘take the temperature’ of your market and see how your brand ranks compared to your rivals, specific surveys and questions can give you an accurate prediction of how well a new product or campaign is likely to perform, and the best firms can give you vital insights into competitor intelligence, that is, what your rivals are planning.
Taken together all these different data sources give you the tools you need to go after your next big success without falling into the many pitfalls waiting out there for your business.