New Business Start-up Research
Using an analogy from the bible; when God was giving the children of Israel the land of Canaan, he asked Moses to send out men to spy out the land… whether the people who dwelt in it were strong or weak, whether the land was good or bad, rich or poor etc.
Same principle applies to when you have a great business idea, you need to research; research yourself, research your potential business partner, research the market you plan on entering, research who the players, and research the types of finances available. By researching yourself, you are able to establish whether or not you have the skills and experience required to start and run your own business successfully and the gaps you need to fill. By researching your potential partner(s), you determine what skills and experience they bring to the table, how it complements you bring, and most importantly whether you are able to work together in the short and long term.
Your Market (Industry) research is one of the most important and not to be compromised research that needs to be done. Omitting to carry out this research, even if it is minimal to start with, could lead to challenges in your business. During your research, you have the potential to discover anything, you could find the intended market is on a decline or that the potential for growth is phenomenal. By undertaking this research you are able to determine market growth potential, trends, receptiveness of the market, who the key players are such as vendors and competitors, and potential partnership opportunities.
Existing Business Research
For existing businesses, the focus is usually on growing the business an d increasing profits; better serving the needs of customers; being ahead or keeping pace with competitors; keeping abreast of the evolving economic and environmental factors; and taking advantage of emerging trends and technologies. To do this successfully starts with research, and continues with keeping abreast with the news. Research would include; competitor analysis, customer surveys, market trends, employee surveys etc.
Market trends and well as keep abreast of what your competitors are doing can be vital information that enables you be relevant. Remember, if your target market is not buying from you, they are buying from someone else. With competitor analysis you are able to identify who your competitors are; their products/services, pricing, distribution etc. Armed with some of this information you are able to make better business decisions, fine-tune your competitive advantage, and strategically position your business succeed.
Customer surveys (and feedback) will enable you gather information about the needs and opinions of your customers. Customers’ needs are constantly changing, therefore we need to be keep up with these changes and trends in order develop products and/or services to be relevant and appeal to the needs of your target market.
In general, undertaking the required research may or may not be easy depending on you familiarity with the process, knack for finding information, experience etc. It can also be very time-consuming and complex depending on the type of business or research required. With the internet and social media, research and information has become more easily available, however, it is important that you have clear objectives on what you are looking to achieve so as not to get overwhelmed. If you are finding it difficult to undertake the research yourself or do not have the time, it is worthwhile outsourcing or delegating the process.
Once your research is completed, you are now in a better position to know if and how to proceed; you have better understanding of the market you operate within and able to respond to the needs of the market; you know what your customers want; you are in a position to develop your competitive advantage; and armed with the knowledge to make better decisions and planning on the strategic development of your business.
While some businesses may have started out successfully without any research, a time comes when they have to pause and research to maintain their strategic advantage or they become irrelevant.
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Yvonne is a Change Consultant, Coach and Speaker who is passionate about working with Individuals, Entrepreneurs and Organisations to implement change, drive results and achieve their goals. She can be reached at: www.facebook.com/oliveblueinc, www.twitter.com/oliveblueinc, www.oliveblue.com