How would you feel if an investor bought into your business and led the turnaround to make it a multimillion-naira company within two years? We are sure you will be surprised and thrilled at the same time because you have managed the business for more years than this and the business may have been struggling before the intervention. You could say the quick turn-around is because the investor had the required funds to scale the business, but we are pretty sure beyond the funds, what he/she had access to, is information.
For instance, if a small business owner desires to expand his/her business to other African countries to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in operating within a free trade zone connecting about 1.3 billion people across 55 countries. Then information about other African markets you can tap into and the value proposition your business has to strategically penetrate these markets is important.
In this article, we will discuss some of the critical data and market insights required to create or position your product/brand globally using the “4Cs”: Country, Competition, Collaborators and Customers.
An environmental scan of the geographical location you operate in is necessary. This enables you to understand the drivers of economic activities, the gaps to be filled and problems to be addressed within that geography or any other you may be interested in penetrating. This information is important to ascertain the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the economy you serve or intend to serve. This further empowers you to deal differently and identify opportunities beneficial to your business.
Some of the data you need to familiarize yourself with are the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), including your industry’s contribution to the GDP, money supply, inflation rate, interest rate, exchange rate, unemployment rate, etc. Since a business must cater to the needs and demands of a target audience in or outside an economy, knowing how the economy fares is essential to deploying relevant strategies that will align with same.
Countries with larger GDPs often have a greater amount of goods and services generated within them, while their people are likely to have a higher standard of living which indicates potential for more spending. Similarly, inflation rate helps to know when consumers purchasing power is declining or increasing, while interest rates determine the cost of obtaining funds, and unemployment rate if low, shows that consumer spending is likely to tend upward and most people will have income to spend, which is good for any businesses and helps drive growth.
These economic indicators are universal, and they can influence any business, small or large, local, or international, in any location or at any time. You can further drill down the data to various sectors and if necessary, subsectors, while considering insights from key financial markets especially when you are seeking funds for your business. While the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) remains the primary source for this kind of data in Nigeria, business consultants and market intelligence firms like Proshare help to make these data available and interpret them in simple narratives that enhance the ability of decision-makers to make informed decisions.
So much can be learnt from competitors if only small business owners are open to pick the piece(s) of information that competitors directly or indirectly leave as footprints of themselves across their various business channels. Some of the sources of competitors information are their brochures, pricelist and other communication materials distributed either on their websites or social media platforms. If the brochure and pricelists are not publicly available, you can obtain same through mystery shopping.
Some of the insights you can gather from competitors include the following: who they are which details their vision, mission and values, their products & services, prices, business methods, staff testimonials/feedback from their customers about their strengths and weaknesses and announcements about their plans and achievements.
Competitors’ data and insight is important to enable you to learn from them and do better; know what they are doing worse than you and the similar things done by you. With this, you can spot gaps and exploit same to gain a competitive edge that makes your business stand out and attain recognition globally.
Collaborators to a business can be internal or external. Internal collaborators exist within your business/company, working together to achieve the same objectives.
With respect to internal collaborators, your staff turnover and feedback regarding your process flows are information you can gather to enable you to spot and deal with areas of improvement identified. Your human resource manager can put a structure to this by having periodic questionnaires that can help you obtain the relevant information you require. Alternatively, you can reach out to a business advisor like FCMB to gain more knowledge.
For external collaborators, you should not collaborate until you are clear about the value the collaborator is going to add to your business. A track record of what they have done in the past will be very critical information for you to obtain and assess before dealing.
Customer insights are insights into the behaviour of customers. By analyzing your customer data, you will be able to understand who your customers are and what they want from your brand. This will help you make better decisions about what, where, when and how to sell to them.
Throughout a customer’s journey, data can be obtained to optimize the customer’s experience and improve your lead generation & nurturing techniques. Some tools that help to collect and report customer data include Google Analytics, Social Media & Ads Analytics and Customer Relationship Management Platforms such as Hubspot.
Another platform you should get started with to obtain financial insights beneficial about your business is OZÉ - a business intelligence tool designed to help SMEs grow their business by giving them the ability to track their sales, expenses, send digital invoices and receipts and get insights pertaining to their business in real-time. You can also chat with a dedicated business coach when using the platform.
Many small business owners prefer to rely on instincts instead of intelligence; forgetting that though instincts are good, business intelligence and market insights are required to plan, prepare, and position the business for growth. Information and its effective use are critical when managing a business, as it provides insights into what has happened (past), what is ongoing (present), what could likely happen (future) and things that can be done differently to modify and improve on the business. Thus, to develop a product that is recognized globally and scalable across borders, data and market insights are necessary to make informed decisions.