Before my passion for entrepreneurship took me to start my own business, I worked for diverse retailers and manufacturers in the packaged goods industry. During this journey I learned a lot about how they build their competitive advantages.
Now that I am an entrepreneur and help small and medium size businesses, I find that most of their challenges originate from lack of ongoing business planning and developing the right strategies and tactics for their specific market.
Contrary to what people say, what makes the difference between giant and smaller businesses is not money or permanent resources, it is actually organization and systems!
The key for success is that corporations have specialized departments that are in charge of:
- Knowing what data and insights to look for
- Using that data for on-going strategic planning
During my stay in the corporate world I was part of one of these departments, called category management. We gathered data on the customer, competition and retailers and used this to make and suggest decisions for price, promotion, assortment, bundling and packaging.
How can entrepreneurs compete?
Small businesses can be more competitive by gathering and analyzing the right data relevant for their business, and using this information to develop the right systems to support and execute their strategy.
While it is true that the amount of data small businesses have is a lot less than the ones corporations do, that only makes it easier to analyze.
Think about how much easier is for smaller businesses to choose a target market and serve them customized products/services that they’ll love. Corporations are focused on servicing the masses; you can target those who need your product/service and ensure success that way.
How do you choose your target market?
By researching what your customers want and looking at basic numbers such as spikes in sales due to different promotions. You can present that data in charts, graphs and compare it to information from last year.
It is easy to get started, you can send customer surveys asking questions such as: why did they choose you? What did they like about their experience? These answers can tell you what you should correct and what you should do more of.
There are more specific and complex metrics and strategies needed for success; these will vary from business to business. To take full advantage of data and use it for strategic planning, don’t hesitate to contact a strategy coach or consultant that can help you in your journey to competitiveness.
Using data and developing the right strategies will help you adapt better to the market and will help you grow your business, no matter what size it is currently.