The route to starting up your own business can be long and challenging, but with the right planning process there’s nothing to stop you from heading for success. Perhaps you’ve already had that light bulb moment and have begun mapping out your entrepreneurial idea. This is great, but don’t get carried away before you’ve given sufficient time and attention to one of the most important parts of the process: research. Understanding your market, customer and competition is crucial before you get too far with your idea. Here’s how research can take your startup idea to the next level.
Research the Competition
Okay, so you’ve got your big idea, but is there anyone else out there doing the same thing? Before you launch into the planning phase it’s a really good idea to get to know who else is out there. You can research companies’ online using sites like Company House which allow you to access free information. This includes information on company finances, company directors and suppliers. All of these things will give you a good indication of how each competitor is performing and which are the ‘ones to watch’.
Research Your Niche
Having that light bulb moment is a great start, but now you’ve got your idea its essential that you work out where and how it will fit into the market. The crucial thing is that your idea meets a currently unmet need in the market place. If somebody within the same market is already doing something very similar then you might want to reconsider… unless you can do it better and with a new, innovative twist, that is! Studying industry body reports and publications is a great place to start when researching your niche, as is consulting industry professionals.
Research Your Audience
Hopefully you will already have a pretty good idea of who you are targeting with your business idea, whether they be individuals or businesses. Questionnaires and interviews are all part of the market research process and can provide invaluable information. Another extremely useful tool is the internet. What related terms are your target audience searching for? What are they demanding, or what is trending on the internet forums they use? Understanding your audience is key to developing a sound business plan and their involvement at an early stage will give your business plan strong foundations.
Who to do Business With?
Once you’ve got your market research out of the way and have a solid business plan that slots nicely into the market, you will need to start thinking about who you are going to do business with. Hardly any company can make it completely alone, and the likelihood is you’ll need suppliers and collaborators along the way. You can research companies that you might like to connect with in a similar way to how you researched the competition. Use free online services that enable you to access Company House information to ensure that you are making the right contacts.
The research stages of a business startup may be time consuming but they are well worth it when it comes to securing investment and developing a solid business plan. With the right market research under your belt and a clear understanding of the market you’ve got the tools you need to ensure a successful startup.