Research has always been an important part of building a successful business. Before a company even opens its doors, experts advise putting serious time into researching the competition, the market and the chosen industry. As technology has given businesses the tools necessary to gather information and put it to use, it has only become more essential that organizations base their decisions on careful research.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Every new venture needs a business plan, especially if you intend to seek funding from investors. The more background information you include in your business plan, the more likely it will help you succeed. Put time into studying your market and identify ways in your business plan that will set your business apart from the competition. Regularly update the plan with new information as you conduct research. Ensure you remain constantly aware of what your business needs to do in order to succeed.
The Best Decisions Need Data
Research has revealed that although effective decision-making is directly connected to financial performance, 98 percent of managers don’t put best practices to use in making decisions. Instead of taking the time to research the best course of action, leaders often simply grab the first idea that comes to them and try that. This can lead to disgruntled staff, since employees may doubt these decisions, especially if they aren’t sound. When managers can demonstrate data that back up their plans, employees are more likely to be enthusiastic about helping.
What Do the Customers Say?
An important part of growing a business is reaching out to customers. At one time, marketers relied heavily on a “spray and pray” method, which meant deploying marketing messaging to a large audience and hoping at least a small percentage would choose to buy. Thanks to the advanced data analytics tools available today, marketing teams no longer have to guess. They can gather pages of information on customer behavior and use the data to create buyer profiles that represent their ideal customer. The more research, the more targeted your efforts can become until you’re reaching out only to those customers that are likely to buy.
Data Analytics Can Boost Your Learning
If you aren’t using analytics to inform the decisions you make, you may find that your competition is. One survey found that 53 percent of companies have adopted some form of data analytics. But even though reports are built into almost every application businesses use, learning to put the information to use is an art. Many businesses use tools like A/B testing to find the best ways to approach everything from product development to email marketing. You simply try two different approaches and watch the numbers to determine which method works best. Over time, you have the information necessary to make informed decisions.
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.