Don’t Let Research Use You

If your email inbox is overflowing with white papers, survey results, industry articles, and loads and loads of data, you’re not alone. (I could include statistics supporting this claim, but then I’d be contributing to the problem.)

Don’t get me wrong. Research is invaluable, helping businesses adapt and thrive in a fast-changing world; and without it we risk losing touch in a highly competitive landscape. But nobody knows your business like you do — or could apply your particular brand of business intelligence to the research intelligence coming across your desk.

So how do you use research without letting research use you? Being a target audience for financial services research for many years, these are some of the things I keep in mind:

  • Focus. Large amounts of research can get your head spinning. Focus on the two to three items that can really move the business. Ensure your key business partners are aligned with the same items.
  • Use research to evolve your business. Making dramatic changes to your strategy because of a few studies probably isn’t the best approach. Instead, use data to make incremental changes to your business over time — always keeping in mind the unique characteristics of your value proposition, your strategy, your clients, and their needs.
  • Don’t be stingy. Share. If only half the people you work with have the research, the other half are trying to solve business challenges with limited information.
  • Set aside time regularly to review research. Create an email folder for must-read research. Set aside the research for when you have time — don’t let each new study interrupt your day.
  • Keep your strategy in mind. It’s just as important to know who you aren’t as it is to know who you are. Having a strategy in place gives you the ability to say “no” to good ideas that just don’t fit your plans.

There’s little doubt that research can help you make your business more profitable and more efficient. Keeping these tips in mind will help you focus on the research that can make a positive impact on your business, without creating information overload for you.

Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc.