Good information helps you make good decisions.
Backtracking, paying fines, and marketing in the wrong place can be devastating to a start-up.
As you are in your first years of business, It is wise to make every minute and every dollar count.
If corporate life has taught me anything, it’s that market research — or the lack thereof — can make or break a project. Eventually, new entrepreneurs realize this and go back and fill in what they didn’t research upfront. I ask you to start from that point so that you are set up for success!
Here are five questions, that when answered, will give you clarity on where to spend your time and money, and help you avoid costly pitfalls.
1. Is the market for what you want to provide growing, stable, shrinking, or in chaos?
It’s not enough to know what it’s doing, you need to understand your place in it. If the market you are entering is in chaos, do you have a product, service, or method that will provide a stark contrast of stabilization?
2. Who are your competitors?
Online, offline, local and global — who are you up against? And what is happening in their world? You can gather some of this information through trade journals and industry-specific networking.
3. How is your competition marketing?
What kind of website do they have? Are they active on social? What channels are they using? What are they promising their (your) customers? Knowing this allows you to do what is already working, without recreating the wheel, and it offers insight into what you are doing differently.
4. Who are your customers?
This seems like an obvious question, yet too few people take the time to really answer it. A male in his 40s isn’t good enough. You also need to understand where he is getting his product or service now. What is going to make him switch to you?
5. What is the best place to get this information?
Some of it, like what social channels your competition uses, is you going out there and poking around. Much of it, however, you want to get from trusted sources. This can be a professional or industry association, online studies, articles from respected sources, and data compiled from local business groups.
A little work upfront will save you time and money in the long run because you won’t be making blind or misinformed decisions.
Sandra is an author, entrepreneur, and business strategist. Drawing from 30 years of business building experience, she teaches new and aspiring entrepreneurs how to achieve sustainable success.