When writing a company profile, we are usually going to face large sets of data and information, which can overwhelm us, and put us in a situation where we have no idea where to start. Here are some tips from Latin Brains:
1) Check how much there actually is. As the first step, try to quickly check press releases, financial reports, presentations, as well as major press articles. A good rule of thumb is to see how many press releases the company has published in the last year, and how many articles you can find on Google News or a private news aggregator database.
2) Stay calm and try to see the whole picture. This is an important psychological technique. When dealing with big companies, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming. Our advice is to stick to the final objective, which is to understand the company’s strategy as well as current issues and opportunities.
3) Work with good sources. You can read our previous article about this, but the key here is to focus on a few good articles from reputable sources, which is far better than tons of articles from questionable websites. For instance, a huge deal can be covered by 100 different sources. However, they will mostly repeat the same information as the initial press release. Only a few specialized sources will add some insight and value.
4) Identify the pillars of strategy, and then tag and organize the information under those pillars. Many times, we tend to hurry up and start writing straight away. However, at the end of the day, this can turn out to be extremely inefficient. It is far better to take time at the beginning to understand, overall, what the firm’s strategy is and then accommodate the information we gathered. Most times, the pillars of a company strategy (you can read about it here) can be identified quite easily. Having a general picture of what is going on by reading the latest quarterly results or some recent articles is also very helpful. Once identified, then the rest of the information can be quickly tagged and linked under these pillars.
5) Have a consistent approach. Every analyst has a different approach to gathering information. For instance, some start by reading a company’s annual report, while others start with the latest news. There is no perfect approach, and it will depend on many factors, such as previous knowledge of the company or industry, reliability of sources, etc. The most important thing is to understand and master your own approach.
6) Tag, don’t read. Don’t waste time by reading the whole article at the beginning. A good practice is first to tag the information under a pillar of the strategy, or by type (appointment, contract, deal) or by geography and then summarize it. For instance, if there are three different M&A deals, and each one corresponds to a different pilar of the strategy, just start by putting all the information together. Once you have a better picture of your report, you will know how much to summarize.
7) Ignore unnecessary information. Don’t be afraid to ignore information that you believe you won’t use. Sometimes, we are not sure about ignoring information because we think that something is going to be useful in the future, but most times it isn’t. In the case you end up needing something you discarded, you can always search for it later.