There are many steps to starting your small business. From research to branding and everything in between. Our series, Keys to Starting a Small Business, will take you step by step through that process. Our first in this series focuses on market research.
The first step to starting a small business is doing the back work to decide if your idea is viable and worth pursuing. If there is not a market for your service or product, then your business will have a hard time staying afloat. Going through the market research process is an invaluable step to ensure you are on the right track.
When completing this step, market research, you will be learning many things not only about your service or product, but also about the competition, potential customer behaviors, economic trends and the market as a whole. In this process you will discover where and how your business will fit into the current market.
Let's get started on our Keys to Starting a Small Business Series.
Step One: Market Research
First, identify your business goals. Make a list. Brainstorm. Just get it on paper. Your goals may change throughout the process, but you need to have a good understanding what you hope to achieve with your business, before you start your research. This is your jumping off point for the research, and will help keep you focused throughout.
You have your business goals laid out, now you can start your research. You can research the market and viability of your service or product through focus groups, interviews, surveys, statistics, and other studies in the same market. Your goal with this research is have a better understanding of the market you are entering and what works and does not work in that target market.
At this point, you have your business goals and have researched the market itself. It's time to create a buyer persona. Your buyer persona should include your target buyers: age, gender, interests, income, family, employment, location, etc.. The more detailed you are in this persona, the better you will be able to create a business that meets your target demographic.
Knowing your potential buyer, allows you to dig deeper into their lifestyle. Look at what they need, want and tend to spend their time and money on. The more you research your buyer the easier it is to see what works and does not work for your target market.
At this point, you know a lot about your business and your potential client, so we can begin research on competitors in your target market.
As you look at your competitors, ask yourself these questions:
What are your competitors doing that works?
What are they doing that doesn't work?
Where can you excel to get ahead of your competition?
The more you know about your competitors, the better you can create your business to meet the needs not being met by your competitors, and get an edge in the market.
Report Your Findings
You have the research, now you need to compile it, analyze it and create a report of your findings.
Your Market Research Report should include:
A quick summary of your findings
Your business goals
Your buyer persona
The key findings from your research
The next steps - What actions do you need to take?
Congratulations, you've just completed the first step in starting a small business. Stay tuned for our next blog in the Keys to Starting a Small Business Series - Step 2 - Create a Business Plan.