One of the first questions that we often get asked from aspiring entrepreneurs is how to
take the first step in developing an interesting business idea into a fully functioning business. While there are a series of important steps that need to be taken when planning out a business, a critical first step is to do market research.
Market research is an important starting point because it can help a prospective business owner gain a larger understanding of the marketplace and helping educate an entrepreneur on the viability and reality of starting a particular business venture.
So where does one start with market research? First we must identify the two basic types of market research: Primary Research and Secondary Research.
Primary market research methods can use financial resources and take a great deal of effort to complete. Secondary market research methods are generally available free of charge and are readily available either online or in print form. As a general rule, it is recommended to start with the Secondary resources to gain an understanding of the industry or model. If one has a strong understanding of the industry as a whole then starting with primary market research would be appropriate.
Primary market research methods include:
- Personal interviews with potential customers
- Individual surveys that you develop and administer to gain information
- Information meetings with industry stakeholders
- Test marketing of a product or service
- Mystery shopping the competition
Secondary market research methods include:
- Published and paid for studies
- Newspaper and periodicals
- Statistics – industry based
- Trade associations, industry associations
- Trade journals
- Industry suppliers
- Industry regulators if applicable
Market Research can be time consuming and costly, but if conducted with focus and determination can provide valuable insight to help new entrepreneurs with a sound foundation.
The Halton Small Business Centre has market research tools and information available. One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give you the tools to achieve success. For more information about any of Halton Region’s Small Business Centre resources and services, and how we can help direct you to the right resources, contact us at 1-866-4HALTON (42-5866), www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @haltonecdev and Facebook at www.facebook.com/HaltonSBEC.