These days, when it comes to seeking out information, most people turn to their computers to do the work for them. “Surfing the Net” has become a routine way of gathering necessary data, facts, and other such knowledge. Need directions to your Aunt Susie’s friend’s garage sale? Head to mapquest.com and you’re likely to find a customized map, tailored to your specifications. Can’t remember what macerate means? Dictionary.com will remind you. In fact, these days, people use the Internet to search for answers to nearly any and every imaginable query, including information on business competition.
But how sure are you that the information you are obtaining via the World Wide Web is as accurate as it could be? What exactly do you sacrifice in the name of convenience? I, for example, have been steered astray on more than one occasion by the almighty Map Quest. And, although Dictionary.com is helpful, it certainly isn’t able to replace the vast resources available at your local library. Speaking of local libraries, even they have taken content online. AccessMyLibrary (www.AccessMyLibrary.com) is a site from Thomson Gale featuring free access to over 15 million articles from leading as well as trade/interest specific publications and journals.
Powerful and accurate online resources do exist, though they are often buried beneath a virtual layer of illegitimate websites and flashing advertisements informing you that you are, in fact, the winner of a new pink Motorola RAZR phone. Lucky you.
However, if you are searching for information on your company’s competitors, chances are you’d like that information to be as accurate and as easy to obtain as possible, a feat that is likely far more difficult than it should be. However, sites like ECNext’s Goliath (www.goliath.ecnext.com) simplify this task by providing you with clear, accurate company profiles, industry information and market reports as well as business news, resources, leads and more. Essentially, the site does your homework for you.
I probably don’t need to remind you that this sort of information can be imperative to the success of your business. According to Steve Strauss, Business Expert for Microsoft Small Business Center, “if you want to succeed in business, doing your homework is critical. Knowing what the competition does right (and wrong), what they charge for their products or services, and where they seem to be headed can give your business a significant boost.”
Dawn Rosenberg McKay, writer for Career Planning at about.com, agrees: “It’s important to keep up with business news about the industry in which you’re working or are considering working. It’s good business practice to be well informed about your clients’ industries as well. It will help you stay ahead of the competition.”
The accuracy and depth of this information is often the key to a successful business. Being aware of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses is an invaluable learning tool. In the opinion of Warren Struhl, writer for Inc.com, “the more information you have, the better position you will be in to propel your business forward. So don’t become the entrepreneur that says, ‘If I only knew that before I started.’ Stay informed and you’ll be building a platform for success.”
Essentially, using the Internet to gain pertinent information can be an effective process, but it can just as easily yield inaccurate and out-of-date information. Valuable corporate information is out there and ripe for the picking. You just have to know where to look.