Online research tools that support decision-making

dangerThere is free information available online about private companies that can be very useful to small businesses. Knowing how to use a variety of online research tools is a valuable skill.

Details such as company director information and financial history provide solid, reliable evidence about a company’s health and background that can be used in a variety of situations, such as assessing their likely significance as a competitor, or perhaps deciding whether or not you want to use them as a supplier.

A Companies House WebCheck via Duedil, for example, may reveal that a change of directorship coincided with a significant change in profitability. This information can then be taken into account when formulating your own plans in the future. Other tools may provide details of previous health and safety issues at a company – flagging up that you might benefit from further investigation.

When it comes to recruitment, spending time making sure you have selected the best person for the job is just as important as deciding who to do business with. Most recruiters are familiar with conventional techniques such as face-to-face interviews and skills testing, but there is also a growing tendency to introduce psychometric testing as a means of assessing a candidate’s suitability for the role. Test results, combined with reference checks and personal feedback from previous employers (or someone else in a mutual network), can prove to be extremely useful.

When considering any major decision that is likely to impact on your business, ensure you have the best, most up-to-date information available to you. Whether this means using a specific social network like LinkedIn as part of your recruitment process or using an online service that collates company information on your behalf, it’s important to make sure that each research tool you use is appropriate and well suited to providing you with the information you need.

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