Get a Handle on your data

The first seminar my Chairman and I attended at the #fsbconf today was from Handle; Why everything you do could damage your business.  He talked about the digital footprint and the amount of data which is publicly visible to those that dictate your ability to succeed, including obviously your customers, but also your competitors, investors, financiers … the list is endless.

He advised that in the last 10 years there have been 980 million new websites, 305 million new twitter accounts and 320 million tripadvisor reviews created.  I am sure he said something like, there is the same amount of data produced in one day, as there was between the dark ages to 2006.  He also advised that for each individual business there are approximately 100,000 different sources of data, all of which people are making decisions on.  The obvious sources of data are Companies House and Credit Checking Companies, where he pointed out that small details can make huge impact, for example not submitting full accounts, changing company directors and personal circumstances can all lead to very low (or zero) scores.

He used an example of a female entrepreneur to illustrate his point and highlighted other data sources and situations which business owners might like to consider.  One of these was recruitment and he made us aware of websites such as Glassdoor, which let employees rate and review employers.  He also used the phrase “the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google search results”, advising that you won’t get business if people can’t find your business, he also reminded us that people make a decision within 10 seconds of visiting your website.  Another big problem his example demonstrated was having a different trading address from the registered address and / or not updating Google Places accordingly.

More importantly he reminded us that people are sharing feedback about our businesses, whether we are aware of it or not!

His company Handle provides an app (or at least are developing one) which will pool together and manage the information in one place, enabling you to see, understand and update it, as well as give guidance on it.  All for free.

However he did advise if you wanted to do it yourself you could check –

  • Companies House – checking the information is correct, there are stable directors, up to date and full records and a correct trading address.
  • Personal and business credit reports.
  • Own website – perhaps using tools such as WooRank or Moz, however focusing on Page Titles, Content, Speed.
  • Social Media – relevant content and whether you are engaging and responding to feedback.
  • Review sites – examples he gave were Trust Pilot and Google Reviews.

And this is all before you even start to Google yourself.

Although he advised you would be able to do this yourself, he did also advise that it might take a couple of hours to do … and also pointed out that, of course, it is not just a one off exercise.  This needs to be repeated weekly or monthly to be of use.

So a free app to do all this sounds quite attractive.

In the question section afterwards a gentleman asked if it is free how they make their money, to which he advised that they work with solution providers for the problems that they identify.  Which then raised a question of the security and confidentiality of the data, which he assured would never leave Handle and would never be sold or passed on.

I stated that I run two businesses and asked whether it would collate the information together, which he advised so, but when asked about fsb and other voluntary or charity committee involvement and membership he asked whether I’d like to be part of the focus group helping them to develop the product further.

The app is planned to be launched to fsb members in April, for which there will be a closed feedback group and it will (hopefully) be fully launched in the summer.

I am really excited about this and am really interested to learn more, especially as I am so prevalent on social media

What are your thoughts? Do you think about the data that is out there about you and your company and how it could be affecting your life?  How do you already manage it?  Would you use a tool that could help you do so?