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Market research: Do your business homework


Researching your potential market and customers is a vital part of starting a business and giving it the best chance of success. Elsa Caleb outlines how to get off the ground.

To give your business the best chance of succeeding, you first need to spend a good deal of time researching the market. You need to be able to recognise customers who might be interested in the goods and services you are offering, and ensure that you can meet their needs. 

Spend time identifying your competitors and what they offer, including their range of products and how they connect with their customers. Consider their pricing strategy. Research their background and how they operate on a day-to-day basis.

Remember that the services and products you offer must be of good quality and meet the needs of your potential customers. Ensure that you have identified a gap in the market and you can demonstrate you have a strong competitive edge and your customers receive value for money.

The next stage is for you to identify plans to promote your business services/products.

These could include social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest – newspapers, journals and websites. Analyse information collated to find out your potential business clients’ buying and spending patterns, and the best places to advertise and connect with your target market.

One of the most important things to remember while you are conducting the research is to capture all the evidence that you have acquired along with statistics to back up your findings.

While conducting market research, count the cost of all you need to get the business off the ground. Taking the time to itemise start-up costs, along with identifying where the funds will come from, is crucial for any start-up. Understanding the different criteria for each lender will also be beneficial before applying.

If you are planning to supply products, the assistance of one or several suppliers will be vital. The quality of what they offer demonstrates your choice and, in some cases, can dictate the type of client you engage with, so careful research and selection is essential.

Take time to develop a good relationship, and be open about what you expect from them.

Try to identify at least three suppliers who have good track records for your products and services to ensure that you are able to trade and concentrate on building the business.

Set aside a substantial amount of time to research every area of your business to build a strong foundation. However, never forget that market research is an ongoing process throughout the life of your business – things are constantly changing and you need to stay ahead of your competitors.

Research tools

There are a couple of strategic tools that can assist you with your market research: 

SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats - Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, and what opportunities or threats they pose

PESTLE analysis: political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental -
While conducting your market research, you should also consider the external factors that can have an impact on your business.

Elsa Caleb is FSB’s Business Creation Team Manager