N.C. Small Business & Technology Development Center’s SBTDC Deanna DayDeanna Day (pictured right) is the statewide senior research analyst for Marketing & Research Services at the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center [SBTDC], headquartered in Raleigh. With a library sciences and marketing background, Deanna enjoys sharing the lessons she learned in corporate America with those in small to midsize enterprises, libraries, and nonprofits.

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Deanna to learn more about her, the North Carolina SBTDC, and how access to Industry Intelligence is vital to counseling business owners. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about your organization.

A: The North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center [SBTDC] was formed in 1984 to help businesses grow and create new jobs. Our team of experienced business counselors provides confidential management counseling and educational services to small and mid-sized businesses [SMBs].

The word “Technology” in our organization’s name distinguishes us from some of the other small business development centers [SBDCs] across the country. We have expertise around the commercialization of research, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and so on. We advise researchers and entrepreneurs in these fields on how to commercialize their product, search for grants, and/or find clinical trial resources.

Many of the directors and business counselors on our team were small business owners or entrepreneurs themselves. Over their careers, they created and sold companies, and about 80 percent have professional degrees, so they bring experience and a broad knowledge base to their positions. And like the other SBDCs/SBTDCs across the country, we are proud to offer most of our services free of charge.

Q: How long has your SBTDC team been using Vertical IQ? Why did you choose Vertical IQ over other options?

A: We started using Vertical IQ about 18 months ago. There were not a lot of great products to do research on industries or markets. There’s really only one other one, which is very costly. The other products we considered were difficult for my counselors to use, time-consuming, and not every industry is covered.

Vertical IQ, on the other hand, has such a breadth of markets and industries, and also niche markets that are very appealing. Vertical IQ came in with a great product at a good price and a better understanding of market dynamics. It is very user-friendly, intuitive, and gives us tools that we didn’t have previously.

Q: What specific challenge was your SBTDC facing that Vertical IQ helped to solve?

A: In addition to the high price of the other industry research products on the market, they also have copyright restrictions. Our counselors were having to read the whole report and then create their own synopsis of it, which is very time-consuming, instead of just being able to print it out. They don’t have to do that extra legwork with Vertical IQ.

Vertical IQ allows us to download and/or print their reports. As an ex-marketing person, I know the value of being able to create a client copy to share. I also really love the Vertical IQ Call Prep Questions, which are a great way to become more familiar with new clients and their marketplace.

Q: How is your team using Vertical IQ?

A: Our business counselors help business owners access capital and save money. Our team uses Vertical IQ to support our clients as they create marketing plans, business plans, and succession plans.

But I would note that our counselors don’t do the work for the business owner; we show them how to do it. We are in the business of teaching business owners. But our team needs the Industry Intelligence on Vertical IQ to have an insightful dialogue with that business owner.

They also use the benchmark data and financials to compare clients to other businesses. A lot of our counselors were in accounting or finance in their previous lives, so they naturally lean heavily on benchmarks and segmenting – it is important to them. Industry News also is useful for keeping in touch with our clients.

Q: Have you achieved any other unanticipated benefits? Anything that has surprised you?

A: I’m surprised by how many of our people are actually logging in and using Vertical IQ! We have really good adoption; Nearly 80 percent of our business counselors use it on a regular basis. In fact, we have people using Vertical IQ who have never used anything like this before – who never really cared about the other industry reports available to us, but they are actually using Vertical IQ. I believe Vertical IQ is the stronger product.

Also, I think from a global standpoint, Vertical IQ has a lot more beneficial bells and whistles. It gives a comprehensive, but easy to digest, market assessment instead of just an industry overview. That’s important if you are going to make projections for a business plan or loan documents.

Q: Have there been any recent examples of success that you can cite that would not have been possible without Vertical IQ?

A: One of our counselors was looking for information on a niche market: compounding pharmacies. I looked at various other resources but only Vertical IQ covered this niche.

The only other place that might have had the information we needed is the North Carolina Biotech Library, but I would have to physically go there, do the research, and I can’t take any of their resources out or even make a photocopy. Thankfully Vertical IQ had the information our clients needed.

Q: If you had to sum up the value of Vertical IQ in one statement, what would you say?

A: Vertical IQ gives us a comprehensive market assessment, as opposed to just an industry overview. For the guy who is trying to write a business plan or try to get a million dollars from a bank or a grant to try to justify an expansion, it doesn’t really help to know what is currently being produced. He wants to know what will happen in the future. Vertical IQ does a better job of that; it gives us another perspective.

Q: Do you have any other comments you would like to make about your experience with Vertical IQ products/services?

A: I like the niche industries, the variety of sources, and the industry news, and the Local Economies section also is great. There is a lot of helpful information that can be downloaded.

Vertical IQ’s business valuation data is very important to us as well. Part of the business planning process is talking to people about exit planning as part of their overall business plan. Counselors need to be asking, “What do you want to do when you retire?” but there were a lot of reasons people hesitated to have that conversation. Not having good valuation information made it easier to avoid the topic.

Now, with the help of the valuation data found on Vertical IQ, we encourage counselors to have an exit planning conversation as part of a broader business strategies discussion. Vertical IQ helps make that crucial topic easier for our counselors to cover.

>> Learn more about the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC).
>> Learn more about how SBDCs can benefit from the Industry Intelligence on Vertical IQ.


Subscribe to our blog: