As a small business owner, have you wondered how your business stacks up compared to others in the same field? Or how to use knowledge of your industry to improve your sales and marketing approach? As part of VtSBDC’s day-to-day work providing no-fee, confidential, one-to-one advising, our advisors can go from helping a tech startup in Burlington that needs to develop a business plan, to meeting with a hair stylist in Rutland who wants to open a second location. Access to specialized research tools that offer you broad and detailed information about your specific industry is a game changer for the VtSBDC team. One such example is Vertical IQ, an industry intelligence platform which has been selected for a national partnership with the national network America’s SBDC.
The partnership provides Vertical IQ access to nearly all of the business counselors in the SBDC (Small Business Development Centers) network of state offices across the country. Vertical IQ’s Industry Profiles, financial data and Local Economic Data are used to help advise business owners of all types of businesses.
“Market intelligence is an important component of a small business owner’s overall business plan,” said Linda Rossi, State Director, VtSBDC. “When our advisors are able to access and provide information in a concise, detailed format, our clients are more prepared to make critical decisions about their business.”
According to a press release announcing the partnership, president and CEO of America’s SBDC Charles “Tee” Rowe noted that Vertical IQ was the best choice for SBDC counselors’ Industry Intelligence needs in terms of quality and value.
“Vertical IQ is delivered in a format that is easy to digest and understand, and the content is designed to be shareable, saving our counselors time on both research and follow-up,” Rowe explains.
How does industry intelligence work for small business owners in Vermont?
Not long ago, a client came to one of our VtSBDC advisors with an interest in opening an outdoor gear retail shop. They had experience as an active outdoor enthusiast, but little knowledge of the recreation industry. The VtSBDC advisor saw an opportunity to help his client put a market report together and assist with a business plan using insights found on a specialized market research resource. The industry intelligence the business advisor gathered bolstered the client’s confidence and added to the list of reasons to move forward and start their new business.
In another example, a couple from out of state was looking to buy a bed-and-breakfast in Vermont. Their VtSBDC business advisor used market research to establish financial benchmarks as they were preparing cash flow analysis. She was able to look across the industry for information on gross margins, cost of sales, and more to encourage the clients to ask themselves critical questions like, “What should our costs be as a percentage of sales?” and “Why is our estimate for salaries and wages higher than the industry average?”
Armed with Vertical IQ and other research platforms available to VtSBDC, a business advisor can quickly get up-to-speed on the details of their client’s industry, enabling them to provide crucial insights and invaluable advice to small business owners. They can support clients by quickly understanding the top trends and the potential challenges clients may face when starting a business within a particular niche. Plus, advisors can gain the industry intelligence needed to walk through cash flow, explore potential expenses, discuss equipment or merchandise purchases, and help evaluate other important business decisions.