If you ask what makes someone a good business owner, you’ll likely get answers related to confidence, bravery, and resilience. These are all fine qualities, but the real skill of running a successful business is in making good decisions: being able to take a clear understanding of the challenges you face and the resources you have available and choose how to combine them to solve your problems and maximise your income.
Oddly, a good decision maker needs to be able to set aside a lot of those qualities that go to make a good business owner: courage, vision, inspiration and so on can all lead to you blinding yourself to the facts so you can make decisions based on what you’d like to be true, not the real state of the world. Your desire to succeed and confidence that you will is important for morale, but it doesn’t guarantee that any one decision you take will turn out well.
You can make better decisions if you put your feelings aside, and base your choices on data and expertise. One of the most important things you need is market intelligence.
This is an umbrella term for the vast array of insight a good market research agency can put together for you – from telling you what your customers are thinking, and how they’re choosing to spend your money to answering the key question of why people who’ve not used your business haven’t spent their money with you yet.
They can also assess a new market you’re contemplating entering, whether it’s another town or another country, and tell what level of demand there is for businesses in your niche and what sort of competition you can expect to face. The best market researches can also tell you how you can expect things to change in those new markets over the course of the next few years, giving you an advantage when you’re planning the development of your business in the long term.
Finally, you can bring market intelligence to bear when you’re designing and launching new products. It can tell you what customers look for from your industry and your business specifically, identify areas where your customers are under-served, firmly pinpoint their needs and perhaps most importantly identify the right price point. All of this is important information for you to have before you begin the design process: if you start making decision in advance of the data, you’ll find yourself trying to fit the facts to your vision, not adapting your vision to fit the facts.