Posted by Wendy Bounds
If you aren’t a public firm, you’re likely in a financial black hole — with no way compare your results with the competition. You might think a 10% increase in revenue is great, but rivals might be posting 20% growth.
A company called iLumen Inc. aims to lift the veil by creating an online community where private companies can disclose their data anonymously and see how they stack up against others. On Tuesday, iLumen will introduce a social-networking component to its Financial Information Network for participants to get feedback from advisors and peers, as well as information from blogs and surveys.
Three major banks, including Wachovia, have signed on to contribute with the hopes that their advice will lead to new business for them. Businesses that join the network ($40 a month or $395 a year) might get their credit worthiness assessed by banks or a CPA firm might identify tax and accounting issues.
Of course, this service will only be useful if there are enough firms inputting honest data. So far, that only totals about 12,000 — and it’ll take more advisors to make the price tag pay off.
Still, iLumen’s efforts bolster the niche networking opportunities that are flourishing online for small businesses, from LinkedIn, StartupNation, and Prosper to last week’s launch of Bank of America’s small business forum. The trick for firms is picking the right posse.
Readers, What are the best online networking opportunities for private companies?