Reliable data key to seeing the big picture

Good numbers and data are the fundamental basis of business. Still, it’s the context provided by the relationship of various kinds of data that is essential here. Knowing that your revenue grew by 12 percent during the previous month is useless if you don’t recognize that expenses increased 20 percent and the number of customers generating that revenue was 50 percent greater.

At the Business Press, we strive to provide some of that context to our readers with various types of data we gather and publish in easily digestible packages. The most significant presentation of data are the lists ranking various industries. They are compiled by a survey that is distributed within the industry or by use of public records. The goal of these lists is to present a reliable and comprehensive snapshot of an industry.

When it comes to lists compiled by a survey, we have to rely on members of that industry to first respond to our survey, and then to provide complete, honest and reliable information. We’re happy with the outcome of a survey if 40 percent of the companies respond. Of course, we are generally aware of what companies need to appear on any given list, so we make every effort to encourage them to provide us with numbers. Our surveys are available online. We encourage you to go to and click on the “ADD DATA” tab, where you’ll find a blank form that allows you to add your company’s information and select the surveys relevant to you.

Part of improving our list each year is to revise our surveys, most often just by fine-tuning a question, but sometimes by changing the survey entirely, including the ranking criteria we use. Input from the business community is always appreciated and I can be reached at with suggestions.

One of the things we’ve started to do this year is to group companies by size, asking for a revenue range on each survey. This allows us to present a more relevant picture of each industry since revenue is a more accurate reflection of a company’s size than the simple metric of local full-time employees.

Las Vegas Business researcher Ulf Buchholz’s column will appear on a regular basis, explaining data, its role in business and providing a broader context of public records research for our readers.

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