3 ways to use census data in your business

9th August, 2016

Every five years, Australians are obliged to take part in the periodical national inventory of everyone who is in the country on one night. A gathering of data to see who’s who and what do they do, who lives where and what do they care about.

But what does this have to do with Australian business owners?

Business planning for success

When starting a business, writing a business plan is like writing your roadmap for success. The more work and research you put into it, the more benefit you’ll get out of it.

You’ll need to nut out practical details like your products and/or services, your organisational structure and your legal and regulatory requirements.

You’ll also need to determine market-related and strategic points like who your market is, what their requirements are, and where your business will be located. That will require having good data and hard-nosed self-assessment about any competitors who may be able to take away market share or even dominate a particular market.

Statistics and data can help you with market and strategic planning for your business.

Managed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the census examines a range of data. Personal and familial details are recorded, such as age, ancestry, gender, languages spoken and religion, as well as housing and employment specifics like incomes, occupations, dwelling types and occupancy.

READ: Business intelligence. What is it and why is it changing business?

Here are three ways ABS data can help you in your business.

1. Review community profiles

Whatever your product or service, there’s no point trying to build a business around a lack of demand.

Also, if you’re thinking about duplicating a successful business model, like a retail or café business, in another area, data can help you make a decision on when, where and how to expand.

ABS data can help you identify areas of population growth, explore the demographics of a particular neighbourhood or region, and identify potential customer bases by using information about income and household spending.

2. Check in on others in your industry

While the ABS does not have information to profile a competitor, it is possible to look at competitors within a particular geographic area or in a particular industry.

Industry overviews can give you a keen insight into the state of play, as well as the likely future, of your area of interest.

If you’re interested in the building and construction industry, for example, you can get an understanding of the number of building approvals that were granted in a particular period, the number of residential or non-residential projects on the go, and the seasonal trends taking place.

3. Deep dive into specific data for small business

Traditionally the ABS prepares a number of reports, specifically for businesses.

The reports provide a snapshot of things like the use of IT in business, skills shortages, and innovation in goods or services, operational processes, organisational processes and marketing methods.

Staying abreast of ABS media releases by date or topic can help you remain up to date on areas that are relevant to your business. For example, a tourism business could find the top three travel destinations for Australians, or a car-sales business could find out how the sales of diesel vehicles had changed over a period of time.

Getting a handle on data that relates to your business can mean the difference between failure to launch and startup success.

Most ABS information is free and available on the website. There’s also a free phone-consultation service to help you find relevant information.