You’ve probably heard the famous quote from the movie Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” It’s as true for the sugary sweets we love to eat as it is for the companies we do business with; you just never know what outcomes will arise with your potential business partners. Unless, of course, you have the right data and analytics to understand exactly whom you’re working with.
The right data can help expose hidden risks and uncover new opportunities with your customers, partners and suppliers. Don’t let a lack of knowledge trick you into forging bad relationships. As Halloween approaches, let’s look at what candy can teach us about forging sweeter business relationships using some observations about US businesses with insights from Dun & Bradstreet’s Senior Data Scientist, Dr. Kobi Abayomi.
1. Sticky Sweets
These sticky, gooey candies can hang around in your mouth’s crevices long after the sugar high has worn off. Some businesses also take too long to deal with – whether it’s negotiating terms or closing deals. The longevity of a business can often be an indicator of how easy it is to do business with a company. Remaining relevant in an emerging market suggests a degree of agility. Data can often immediately identify how long and successful a business has been.
Sweet Stat: 12.5 Years – The average years in business for all active U.S. businesses today
2. Fancy Wrapping
We’re often lured by the shiny, metallic packaging of some candy, but when we unwrap it all we find is a tasteless lob of goo. Likewise, some companies hide behind fancy marketing and promotion but do not offer much real value. Delving into a company’s operational history, financial performance and change management can help you understand the true business opportunity behind the branding.
Sweet Stat: 100K+ - Number of U.S. businesses bankrupt in 2015
3. Artificial Ingredients
While we know candy is not necessary healthy, we love devouring it regardless. But some candy can be worse than others and contain dangerous ingredients hiding within. Similarly, imposters can hide behind a corporate façade looking to do harm. The right historical data – suits, liens, judgments, etc. – can help identify bad actors that can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Sweet Stat: 20K+ - Annual number of business entities in the US and the UK implicated in various malfeasant behaviors
4. New & Improved
Every so often candy makers introduce new products and experiment with outrageous flavors to whet our appetite, but we often return to our childhood favorites. Businesses also seemingly spring up from out of nowhere offering bells and whistles that may meet our needs on the outside. It’s vital to look at data to understand what makes these businesses truly unique to gauge total risk and opportunity.
Sweet Stat: 20% - Approximately 20% of U.S. businesses experienced meaningful growth between 2014 and 2015 (where ‘meaningful growth’ is defined as growth outpacing GDP and Inflation growth)
5. Made Abroad
Ever unwrap a piece of candy and notice the “home-grown” sweet was actually made in a factory overseas? Sometimes we do business with companies without understanding where they operate – and what that may mean for following the proper regulations. Looking at corporate linkage helps you understand the global nature of companies you’re engaging with.
Sweet Stat: 5 – Average number of locations for multi-location U.S. businesses
*Dun & Bradstreet, sourced data