Taking inventory of the tangible assets of a company is a pretty simple (although usually strenuous) process. You have property, cash flow, and equipment – all things that can be tallied into neat little columns and summarized with a single number. Does this number accurately reflect the value of your business in your mind? Probably not. You probably place a higher value on your company based on the intangible assets you know exist.

What Are the Intangibles?

Click image for full infographic on company assets.

Intangible assets are the largely unseen elements to your business that give it a worth far above the brick-and-mortar components. They encompass company culture, client relationships, industry information and even big data. They’re the things you have that separate you from everyone else.

The intangibles matter because they give others perspective on your company, and, for private companies, may eventually lead to a bigger purchaser payout. Below we’ll discuss a few ways you can better manage common intangibles.

Big Data

Big Data: actionable, knowledge and insight

The data your business collects may be one of its most valuable intangible assets, if used correctly. Where most businesses get into trouble is the analysis of this data. It’s important to not get bogged down in all the numbers. Pick key actionable information that will really make a difference in your company and focus on those statistics. For instance, how long are customers staying on your site? What items are they most likely to buy? Which pages are resonating?

Collecting and analyzing company data requires a personnel and time investment, but proprietary insights add value to any company. Your customer insights may reinforce company behavior, or will draw attention to any areas that need improvement. The willingness to examine data and glean areas for improvement can make the difference between successful businesses and lagging competitors.

On a larger scale, customer data adds value to your industry as a whole. If you can stake a claim in the industry using statistics you’ve found, it gives your company the leverage to become a thought-leader in the space. Companies who use their data thoughtfully and efficiently tend to rise to the top.

Customer Relationships

The value of loyalty is priceless.
The value of loyalty is priceless.

When you take care of your customer relationships a miraculous thing happens – you develop loyalty. In the age of the virtual world customer service and a personal connection is an often-forgotten courtesy. Loyal customers may also turn into brand advocates and promote your business to others especially since the rise of social media where consumers are likely to share all experiences on some network or another. The online review process has turned even the most inconsequential customer into a possible advocate at best, or at worse, a critic.

According to a report from the 2012 Forrester Customer Experience Index only 37 percent of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores last year, while 64 percent of brands got a rating of “OK,” “poor,” or “very poor” from their customers. This shows the market for great customer service is still open and users might be swayed to a different company if they provide a more positive experience.

Relationships with your customers also provide the best data for building your portfolio of work. What better example of your capabilities than a glowing case study from your clientele? Amazon’s customer showcase is a perfect example of taking innovative clients and leveraging them to further your product offering, while applauding their efforts at the same time.

Company Culture

How does your company value culture?
How does your company value culture?

Possibly the most important of all the intangible assets to tackle, company culture is a reflection of how your employees feel in your workplace, and in turn, influences how others feel about your business on a more personal level. Companies that retain employees and see maintained high morale tend to have a better front-of-mind perception in the marketplace. Plus, having a great reputation can only do wonderful things for recruiting efforts. It’s no secret that the companies that take care of their workers tend to attract the best employees. In a competitive marketplace intelligent recruitment may be one of the keys to success.

Let’s dive a little deeper into what exactly generates great company culture. While many have chosen to express culture with ping-pong tables, happy hours and excess vacation days, culture can also be promoted by investing in your employees in different ways. Educational opportunities allow employees to further their own knowledge and apply that insight to the company in new ways. A little flexibility around required work hours makes a huge difference for parents juggling school schedules. Focus more on objective and goals versus hours spent in office. The addition of culture to a corporation doesn’t have to mean a big budget spend, it merely needs to be thoughtful and rooted in wanting to do the best for your employees.

For private businesses that may be looking at an acquisition in the future, a positive company culture can lead to a much smoother transition process. Satisfied employees who appreciate their workplace tend to be easier to manage moving forward. A happy company culture not only increases company loyalty, but also leads to more productive workers and a sense of pride in their chosen workplace.

See the Big Picture

Don't focus on the bottom line, see the big picture.
Don’t focus on the bottom line, see the big picture.

Focusing solely on the bottom line of a company can lead to the neglect of many of the underlying elements that culminate to create the total worth. A well-rounded, big picture approach to managing both critical and non-essential elements is recommended and even helps add some diversity to the profit-focused tasks typically assigned to the executive team. Appreciate and nurture the intangibles as unique and differentiating elements that help distinguish your company from competitors.