“Business intelligence” means gathering the right information that can help you improve your business, or move up to a new level. If you have internet access today, you can gather a ton of amazing research, if you know the right sources to tap. So we’re starting a series on great sources for business intelligence for small town business.
First resource up: The US Department of Agriculture. If your business is related to food products or agriculture, you can find a ton of top research from the USDA. That includes topics you might not think of, including forest and fire issues, biotechnology, and economics.
There’s even a special Rural Information Center, that I have just added to my bookmarks, because it has a wealth of information on community development, housing, funding, education, and tourism.
What can you do with USDA data? How does this relate to business intelligence? I heard a great example in a webinar by the eXtension Entrepreneurs and Their Communities service, on Identifying Assets and Opportunities in Your Community. The presenter was Bill Pinkovitz, of the University of Wisconsin Extension Center for Community and Economic Development. He discussed a family farm looking for a way to make their business into something their kids could inherit and would want to stay involved in. To narrow down their potential new directions, they looked at USDA data about meat consumption trends. They could see that pork consumption is rising, and that processed pork sells much better than fresh pork. With that information, they were able to decide on the best way to go.
Oh, and if you need photos on any remotely agricultural topic, don’t miss the public domain photos from the USDA Newsroom.
If you have research sources that help you collect small town business intelligence, I’d love to have your suggestions. I plan to make this an ongoing series.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.