If starting a business or improving your current company’s finances is one of your top goals for 2023, learning about the corporate landscape should be at the top of your to-do list. By adopting the habits of successful business leaders and tracking trends in the market, you can develop a stronger and more nuanced understanding of the current economic climate. From there, your newfound knowledge can inform your trajectory as an evolving entrepreneur and budding business leader.
One of the easiest ways to brush up on the corporate landscape is to identify top performers in the marketplace and monitor their growth. Start by selecting three or four companies or high-profile business leaders to research. Choose successful people in the field you’re looking to break into. For example, if your future career or business idea lies in tech, Jeff Bezos of Amazon might be appropriate. However, if you’re aiming to be a star in the culinary career, The Food Network stars may offer better inspiration.
Once you’ve picked your economic idols, you can use this list of resources to help you learn all about these financial moguls and their respective companies:
Wikidata, created by the Wikimedia Foundation in 2012, acts as a collaborative platform for storing and organizing shared data about people, places, events, and concepts. Presented in graph form, each item is assigned a persistent identifier beginning with “QID”, so data can be easily translated between languages. Because of this intuitive structure, Wikidata is a great starting point to help you quickly and easily find basic and digestible information about businesses and their leaders. From business owner pages, like this one, you can also branch out and explore related items and entities. For example, Richard Branson’s listing contains links to his businesses, such as Virgin Limited Edition, and information about his family and education.
Since its inception in 2003, LinkedIn has been a trusted platform for both companies and employees to expand their networks and keep their finger on the pulse of their industries. Sporting a clear, uncluttered layout, LinkedIn will offer you a more comprehensive look at most businesses and their leaders. If you’re interested in learning about the CEO of a particular company but don’t yet know their name, you can use LinkedIn to identify them as well as other key members of the leadership team. From there, navigate to his or her personal LinkedIn profile to learn more about the businesses they have worked with in the past and their career trajectory thus far. Pay particular attention to the LinkedIn Bio or About Me section. This can give you a glimpse into the routine, passions and motivations of a highly successful businessperson and offer you hints as to how to proceed in your own corporate journey.
The Company’s Own Website
If you’re looking for inspiration to model your new startup on, head to the official websites of the biggest players in your field. Everything from the tone of the language used to the colours utilized and the style of branding can give you vital clues about the marketplace you’re determined to thrive in. Visit the “Mission Statement” page to learn about the guiding principles each successful brand operates under and consider how this can inform your own business decisions. For example, if the leading chocolate brand in your area champions ethical trade, you may need to incorporate this into your business plan to compete. Alternatively, you can identify what is MISSING from the brand’s ethos and fill the gap in the market with your own product/service, e.g., chocolate that is suitable for vegans. For information about the executive team and key figures in the business, visit the “About Us” page. This page may also contain vital information about the steps the founder took to scale up the business, e.g., partnering with angel investors or utilizing the skills of friends until funding was sufficient to hire employees. Reading about the successes and challenges of more established brands doesn’t just provide you with tips, it can also bolster your motivation and dispel any illusions that your future competitors reached this level of success overnight.
As one of the leading global business publications, Forbes is a fantastic source for would-be (and current) financial professionals to keep abreast of important economic changes. The online publication often features articles and Q&As with influential business people. This can help you become aware of key figures in the industry to watch and emulate. You can also read through these interviews for tips on how successful people conduct both their businesses and their lives.
In addition, Forbes is known for the acclaimed “Forbes 500”, a list of the top 500 American companies for each year. This list can help you establish which businesses are thriving and identify patterns around how they operate to achieve this level of commercial success.
For a more analytical look at companies and their leaders, Crunchbase should be your go-to resource. The online database allows companies to establish comprehensive business profiles that include revenue reports, growth metrics and even a glimpse into the funding they’ve received from investors. By exploring investments and acquisitions, you can gain invaluable understanding about how businesses within your industry are performing in the current financial landscape.
Additionally, you can use Crunchbase to find information about company founders, executives and other key stakeholders. Like LinkedIn, there are functions to view team member’s previous roles, current positions within the company and overall professional backgrounds.
Building a new business from the ground up (or revitalizing an old one) comes with a number of challenges. One way to identify and mitigate risks to your growing business is to develop your understanding of the corporate landscape you’re working within. By monitoring the performance of similar, more successful businesses, and learning about the key habits and characteristics of their leaders, you can gain powerful insights to inform your own business strategies.