'What type of Information is Difficult to Find?' - was a 3-month long running poll question on the SBA homepage - and the results are in!
One of the best features of the SBA accelerator guides is that they're offered in a non-linear format. Each guide is broken down into 4 main sections: Getting Started / Industry Information / Competitor Information / Consumer Information - allowing users to jump right to the information they're looking for. And, judging by the results of our first poll question - asking 'What type of information is difficult to find' - people are not all looking for the same thing:
Leading the way we have (1) consumer demographics, receiving nearly a third of all votes. Demographic knowledge is important to business owner for many reasons. Knowing some basic information about target consumers goes a long way towards business success. One of the most reliable sources for British Columbian consumer demographics is the BC STATS website. Their site offers current profiles of all BC communities, has information about income levels across BC, and can help you learn about population trends affecting specific towns/regions.
In second place, (2) Competitive Intelligence collected a quarter of all votes. Knowing who the top competitors are in your industry, and how your business can compete with established companies is a definite difference-maker. One of the resources that each SBA guide highlights in our 'Competitive Info' section is Canadian Companies Capabilities - a national database of businesses operating in Canada. Here you can find information about potential competitors, identify NAICS codes that apply to your industry and locate contact information for business owners.
In third place we have (3) Accounting & Financials. This can indeed be a difficult field to navigate - especially if you're operating in an industry with few public companies. A good place to go when looking for financial information is the SME Benchmarking Tool created by Industry Canada. "SME Benchmarking Tool allows you to: Estimate the operating costs for your new business; View financial performance averages in your industry; Enter your own financial data to see how your business measures up to comparably sized firms" - according to its website.
Finally, (4) Industry Information and (5) Regulatory Information rounded out the poll options. Finding this sort of information is usually less of a struggle, as industry groups/trade associations tend to make this sort of information widely available to both the public and its membership. Regulatory info, in particular, is not seen as nice to have, but rather need to have - meaning publication, distribution and enforcement of this information makes it fairly available and easy to find.
Look for upcoming polls on the SBA homepage, and be sure to vote - your opinions and contributions to the site are always welcome.
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo Maze Wallpaper Green created by Tiger Pixel on Feb 24,2009, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Last viewed on Feb 4, 2011.