Business intelligence does not mean donning a pair of dark glasses and standing in the corner of a rival business’s office to steal their trade secrets. It is far more than that, after all what use is the secrets if you don’t adapt your own business to make it more appealing than theirs? As cutthroat as it seems, it can be almost guaranteed they will be doing the same to you. Business development is essential but you must be flexible especially when you are faced with competition. A simple but effective way to analyse just how much of a threat a rival is a process called SWOT, which looks at the Strengths and Weaknesses of your rival and displays the Opportunities and Threats these facts present.
If you know, everyone will.
Don’t trust channels that start off ‘a friend of a friend’s brother told me’ because even if the information is legitimate, it will be old. After all, it would have to pass through all those people before it reached you and your rival would probably have changed their plans by then anyway. Secondary sources are never reliable for up to date information. If you want to stay ahead of the game you must spend a proportion of your profits on finding the information out first. For example, if you work in retail, employ a plain clothed individual to simply walk around your rival’s shop, speaking to the staff to see how they handle their customers as well as to check their prices. This form of gathering business intelligence is simple and the easiest to implement into your own business development.
Protect what you know
A good defence is important as a good offence. After all your rival will be after your information as much you are after theirs. Simple things like putting a password on your computer to pop up whenever it switches to screensaver can stop people prying into your files while you’re away from your desk. A number one way to protect yourself is to never give anyone a copy of your business plan or even to see it until you are certain they will keep it confidential. The last thing you want is for your business plan to turn up in your rival’s office.
Work as a Team
Everyone under your employment must work as a team for efficient business development. Ten or even twenty people with ears and eyes open can protect your business from your rivals but also pick up business intelligence that would slip by an individual. Encourage this among your employees and you never know just what they may report back with. Regular meetings should be held where these can be accumulated and discussed in reflection to business development.
Business intelligence isn’t just about the competition. It’s about your own business development just as much if not more so. The best way to gather information to help and bolster your company is to visit business conventions and conferences. While the Internet is a great resource for information, nothing can compare to sitting down and meeting professionals and possibly even starting new contracts. This will also help you get a much wider scope of the business market as a whole as well receiving business intelligence that would never make the Internet. However if you can’t make a large number of these conferences there are sites and forums on the net with excellent contact and information exchange opportunities. An excellent example of this would be www.singingpig.co.uk.
Julie-Ann Amos is a freelance writer with http://www.exquisitewriting.com on business and property investment. She recommends http://www.singingpig.co.uk as one of the most effective sources of information for small businesses and property investment. Their property investment forum is a place to find information hard to locate elsewhere.