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Ask the experts: Market research, setting up a home business and advertising on a budget


Our Business Creation experts are on hand to answer all your queries about setting up on your own. The following are just some of the questions we’ve received recently.

How can I advertise my business without it costing a fortune?

Many new businesses start with little or no money. So it is important to identify which advertising platforms will work best for your planned business, factoring in cost, user ability and visibility.

Social media: Platforms to consider include Facebook for Business, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube. It is worth getting to grips with one of these rather than using multiple platforms with minimal content.

Your website: Creating a virtual version of your business can help you reach a wider audience. Free website builders such as WordPress, Weebly and Wix offer templates that allow you to drag and drop designs, fonts and styles. They also feature paid-for services including domain names, data storage and advert removal. 

Print media: Print media offers an effective way to advertise. You could create business cards, newspapers, magazines, banners, leaflets or posters. A combination of these will allow you to cater for different audiences.

Networking: Attending networking events, and talking to existing business owners and potential customers, can help you to promote your products or services. It can 
also assist with building relationships and understanding your sector.

How do I go about setting up a business from home?

Several businesses can be run from home with little or no changes to your property required. For example, you could be a virtual personal assistant, event planner or online seller.

However, there are restrictions and other factors to consider, such as the nature of the business, customer accessibility and regulations. To run certain types of businesses, you may need to contact your local authority for a licence or planning permission. 

Areas to consider when starting a business from home include:
 Do I have the required work space? 
 Do I need to inform the local authority?
 What insurance will I require?
 Do I need to notify my mortgage provider or landlord? 
 What will the potential impact be on the neighbours and surrounding area?
 Do I need to make amendments to my property?

How can market research benefit a business?

Market research can provide insight into the business, sector, customers and pitfalls to avoid when starting. The main channels are the internet, social media and surveys. Research can help you to understand:
 The target audience: Who the potential customers are
 Behavioural habits: How customers think and spend

 Pricing: How your product or service will be placed within the market
 Trends and forecasts: If your products or services are in demand or decline
 Market size: The number of customers who could benefit
 Test your business idea: Feedback from customers on the advantages, disadvantages and areas of improvement
 Branding: How effective your brand is by reviewing features such as colours, logos, design and images
 Competitors: Your competitors’ products and services, and how they carry out marketing to build on strengths and weaknesses