Bootstrapping Your Business Intelligence

Business intelligence is about gathering information on current market situations, upcoming trends, and competitor activities. If you think this applies only to big companies, think again. A new survey has revealed that poor intelligence results to substantial losses:

58% of surveyed business executives admit that business opportunities have been missed or problems have not been spotted as a result of not having access to relevant information at the right time;

The survey indicates that the Fortune 500 companies are losing approximately $250 million per year in missed business opportunities as a result of inadequate business intelligence.

You may not lose thousands or millions of dollars but the point is you will lose lucrative opportunities and might not stay on top if you don’t take business intelligence seriously. The good news is you don’t need to spend too much money on this, if you apply the following tips:

  1. Check your competitors’ websites. Most businesses now do have websites and that is a rich source of competitive information. Important sections include “About Us”, “Press Releases”, and “Products or Services”. Don’t forget to check the profile and competencies of its founders or co-founders to gauge how well they know the market.
  2. Internet research. A simple Google search will give you tons of information about the market trends and financial data of your publicly traded competitors. If you are looking for annual reports and financial info, check out Yahoo! Finance and SEC Filings & Forms (EDGAR). Also talk to your accountant about any information that they might share with you.
  3. Use your network. If you have friends or professional colleagues connected in your industry, why not give them a call or set an informal meeting? This is your chance to collect info not commonly available in websites like hearsays or daily operations.