Getting your hands on useful business intelligence
As a small business owner, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision and operate day-to-day with the sole vision of running your company. It’s great to have this precise level of focus as it allows you to monitor every aspect of your business to ensure things are up to par. But there are factors outside of your business that affect its success – namely your competitors.
Their presence in the market plays a part in your revenue gains and the growth of your customer base. Large firms are often able to gain competitor intelligence through a market research firm; for smaller businesses, the SBA offers its free SizeUp widget, serving as your binoculars into the competition’s backyard.
How the SizeUp tool works
Users come to the SizeUp web page and enter their city and industry (e.g., manufacturing, real estate, etc.) After inputting this information, the widget pulls up the top three industry competitors in your area. The listing provides a break-down of employee salary, years in the business, and past revenue reports. It even spins up a Google map with markers showing the location of your top three competitors, as well as a separate map showing the locations of neighborhoods with the highest grossing revenue streams. In order to see this information for more than the top three vendors, users have to register with an email address and password.
The fact that a tool like this exists for small business owners is incredible. It’s not often that business owners are able to gain intelligence about their competitors without spending a large chunk of change to do so. By utilizing this offering from the SBA, you can gain a near 360-degree view of the industry within your city and develop a strategy to bring your business to a level on par with your competitors. Even if your business is performing well, it never hurts to do a status check on what similar companies are doing; this research strengthens your business further grounds your stake in the market.
Quick tour of SizeUp:
How well-meaning diversity and inclusion hiring practices could backfire
(BUSINESS) More companies than ever are considering their diversity and inclusion hiring practices and internal culture, but there is an unintended consequence already happening that could easily be stopped.
It is a widely accepted fact that hiring for diversity improves profitability, whether a small business or a massive company that pours resources into diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices companywide. You probably already know this, but if it’s news to you, Google around – it leads to improved innovation (since you’ve avoided an echo chamber), customer support ranks better for diverse teams (since your team has a wider ability to address more pain points), and it attracts more talent.
Imagine if you build a company and fill it with people that look, act, sound, and think like you. And imagine how agreeable everyone is during every moment of production, and no diversity of thought is ever injected. Any investor can tell you it’s a death sentence. To be blunt, it’s hiring “yes men,” so to speak, and does little more than serve your ego (consciously or subconciously).
American culture has rapidly evolved regarding diversity and inclusion (D&I). There are entire teams in companies dedicated to it (#profitability). I can tell you firsthand that the people devoting their jobs to this really do care. And today, more than ever, the topic of race (which is only one of many components of diversity) is top of mind, so we must all individually, and as companies, push to improve our workplace for the BIPOC while also remembering the LGBTQIA+ community, avoiding ageism, and so forth.
And while positivity surrounding D&I practices abounds, something is happening that is going to backfire.
Businesses are resorting to a “checklist” mindset wherein a CEO says, “we don’t have enough Hispanic women or trans employees, fix that” and drops the figurative mic. It sounds noble to see there is room to improve, but diversity and inclusion is about creating a company culture and hiring practices wherein people aren’t discriminated against, NOT fulfilling some impossible checklist.
I was in a meeting of a company inviting us to be on their board, and one of their first questions was if we knew any black women or Asian men that would join the board because they already had “most of the rest of the rainbow.” Again, sounds like the right direction, but it’s a hollow effort if you’re building a rainbow, not examining merit, not building out an actual culture of inclusion. Try harder.
And that brings us to a weak spot in this practice that we’re already seeing come to fruition. Large companies, particularly in the tech sector, are putting in the real effort to be inclusive, but it’s backfiring.
Companies are inadvertently segmenting their populations for D&I purposes, and while it’s not some evil plot, it negates all D&I programs. We’re witnessing “diverse” companies allow their teams to be built out, diversity-free. Perhaps their development teams are only white men, their marketing teams are only white and Hispanic women, their support teams are primarily Indian Americans, their sales teams are mostly black team members.
It’s wild to walk into a large company and see this strange… segregation.
It is natural to surround yourself with people that look like you, and I have endless theories on this topic, but I’ll confess to you that most of my thoughts have been influenced by reading “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum back when I was in high school (required reading for anyone pondering the topic of race now or in the future). And many practices are well-meaning, but companies are sabotaging themselves with flawed methods.
A company might look great as a whole with various ages, races, religions, gender identities, ethnicities, sexuality, national origin, and so forth, but if they’re all segregated into their own teams based on how they were hired (or by whom), it’s literally the opposite of diversity or inclusion. Swing and a miss, y’all.
If you’re in a decision making role at your company, please bring this topic up as soon as possible, and examine how your own diversity efforts are going – are you sincere, or just looking for positive press?
Are you helping overall?
Or just making things worse?
Etsy is trying on second-hand fashion with purchase of Depop
(BUSINESS NEWS) With the younger generation moving away from fast fashion, it makes sense that Etsy has acquired one of the most popular Gen Z second hand apps.
Over the last few years, sustainable shopping has been a bullet point in the large-scale topic of the environment. Burning through clothing by disposing of old clothing and shopping from places specializing in “fast fashion” is causing damage to the earth.
According to the UN Environment Programme, the fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water and is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
As a result, shopping second hand has become more popular, as opposed to mass-produced fast fashion. Online platforms like Poshmark and ThredUp have grown tremendously over the last 3 to 5 years.
Etsy paid $1.6 billion to acquire the UK-founded company, which has attracted a younger, Gen Z-based audience due to its social media use and messaging on shopping in an ethical and environmentally-friendly fashion.
Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said the company was “thrilled” to be adding what it believes to be the “resale home for Gen Z consumers” to Etsy. Depop has approximately 30 million registered users spanning 150 countries.
“Depop is a vibrant, two-sided marketplace with a passionate community, a highly-differentiated offering of unique items, and we believe significant potential to further scale,” Silverman said in a statement Wednesday.
“We see significant opportunities for shared expertise and growth synergies across what will now be a tremendous ‘house of brands’ portfolio of individually distinct, and very special, ecommerce brands.”
Due to the COVID-related e-commerce boom, shares of Etsy have more than doubled in the last year. The stock was up about 6.7% Wednesday afternoon.
According to data from Crunchbase, Depop had raised a total of $105.6 million from investors including General Atlantic, Creandum, Balderton Capital, Octopus Ventures and Klarna CEO and co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski, prior to their agreement with Etsy.
With fashion being so cyclical, it may be safe to say that second hand will never fully go out of style.
What are your thoughts on resale apps being the answer to fast fashion woes? Let us know in the comments.
As masks become optional, businesses find themselves stuck in the middle
(BUSINESS NEWS) One liquor store’s decision on mask policy following changes in local laws has become a recurring story throughout the nation.
The American mask debate has comprised a whirlwind of clashing political ideologies, legal dilemmas, and personal agendas, with businesses placed directly in the middle of the storm. As the pandemic continues to run its course, a disparity in state mandates and legislation is only serving to increase the strain on these establishments.
With increased access to vaccines and several states rolling back their COVID guidance, the option to wear—or not wear—masks is becoming more discretionary, with businesses often having the final say in whether or not they expect masks to be used on their premises. One such business, a liquor store, posted a notice regarding their staff’s decision to continue wearing masks:
“In accordance with Johnson County mandates: Masks are now optional. Please do not berate, verbally assault, or otherwise attack the staff over their choice to continue wearing masks.”
The notice went on to say, “It is painfully depressing we have to make this request.”
That last line epitomizes many business owners’ stances. Places across the country have started allowing customers to discard their masks with proof of vaccination, but if employees choose to keep their masks for the time being, it’s difficult for clients not to view it as a kind of political statement—despite their decisions often being corroborated by local laws.
And, as long as businesses continue to operate within the confines of those laws, their decisions should be free from public scrutiny.
Sadly, that’s not what’s happening as evidenced by the notice posted by the liquor store in Johnson County. The same disparity that allows for some freedom despite COVID still being present in many Americans’ lives often leaves those who choose not to wear masks to conclude that those who do wear them are being judgmental or unnecessarily cautious.
Those judgements work in reverse as well, with businesses who allow their employees to work maskless facing criticism from masked clients. It seems that the freedom to choose—something for which people strongly advocated throughout the pandemic—continues to cause separation.
As businesses change or adapt their regulations to fit state mandates and employee (and customer) concerns, everyone would do well to remember that the decisions these establishments make are usually meant to affect some kind of positive work environment—not to welcome harassment and abuse.
Business News10 hours ago
How well-meaning diversity and inclusion hiring practices could backfire
Opinion Editorials1 week ago
Easy ways to help an unhappy customer
Business Marketing3 days ago
How becoming better listeners eliminates our culture’s growing isolation
Business Entrepreneur1 week ago
How to choose the right software for your business
Business News1 week ago
You should apply to be on a board – why and how
Opinion Editorials9 hours ago
How to increase website engagement
Business Finance2 weeks ago
Stripe Treasury is modernizing banking, and Shopify is already onboard
Opinion Editorials2 weeks ago
10 tips for anyone looking to up their professional work game