Sunday, July 21, 2024

How much do you want to know what you don’t know

Catherine Sayer

It’s a well-attested fact that a significant proportion of food and beverage business failures happen at the point of scaling up after an early success. At the root of the risk is that we don’t know what we don’t know.

By Food South Australia CEO Catherine Sayer.

What we do know is a) there is a lot of data within businesses that isn’t, but could be, brought together to provide useful information, and b) there’s a real risk in not putting in the effort to making sure you can get at it and put it to good use.

When we haven’t brought together the data that creates meaningful information, then we can’t use that information to develop our knowledge. Not enough knowledge creates risk in decision-making and planning processes. You can’t take ‘gut feel’ to the bank.

There’s a pain point here. If you haven’t got those data ducks in a row, it can take some effort to chase them out of the reeds and into view. Drawing out the data can feel like hard work because it is.

Food South Australia has assisted dozens of businesses go through what some of our team tend to call the ‘groan zone’ in our business growth programs. Invariably, at some point, business owners will be asked specific questions about their financial systems, production, sales activity, and about their customers and consumers.

Many businesses know a bit, few truly know a lot, and even fewer regularly sit down to consider what their information is revealing and how that knowledge can be applied.

Getting this right can be truly transformative. It can even support you to factor in some strategies for the unforeseen, Covid-19 is certainly a case in point.

We have worked with businesses going through this process and seen them use this knowledge to take a deep breath and start all over again because it has become clear that their existing strategy, product range or business model is not currently able to deliver their desired growth outcomes.

Going the hard yards to set themselves up to mine their data and create useful information has given them a real time knowledge base. Using that knowledge has given them a basis to regroup, to put in place evidence-based strategies and targets and go on to grow with confidence.

There’s just no way around that groan zone if you want to get to the growth zone.


About Catherine Sayer

Catherine has led Food South Australia since it was established in 2010, passionately guiding the development of the industry’s peak body with a focus on industry growth and advocacy. She also is a member of, and chairs, several boards.

About Food South Australia 

Food South Australia is the state’s peak body for the food and beverage industry, with a mission to support and sustain the industry in South Australia, helping businesses of all sizes to grow their markets, capability and industry connections. Food South Australia is independent, industry led, and membership based.

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