Where To Look For Market Research Before Starting A Business
Starting a business is like buying any big ticket item like a house. You need to do the research before you take the leap otherwise you’ll end up in hot water. You need to first find out if there is demand for your product/service, what will make it tick through a competitive analysis and lay out the differentiators. The potential for your products or services can be defined as the pool of customers who would be willing to consider them. In order to take any business idea to the next stage, it is essential to prove using reliable information that the product/service is wanted/needed by the community.
Primary research, which can often involve biased participants, may not completely aid in launching the business. Market research should never be underestimated. It is an essential tool that helps organizations in their planning and decision-making processes through its objective analysis of data and information gathered. But, where do you look for this information? Here are some areas that one can research before starting a business:
Government Guidance: Over the past few years, the government has been actively promoting entrepreneurship in the country. Programs such as Start-up India and Stand-up India have provided benefits such as income tax exemption for three years, exemptions from capital gains tax, fast-tracking patent applications, self-certification for labor and environmental laws etc. Besides these flagship schemes, there are several others that had been launched by the government for various sectors. You can find the list here. They will give you a good idea about which sectors are attracting investments now. Also, keep an eye out for market research by government bodies such as NASSCOM, FICCI, RBI, IAMAI etc, which are an excellent source of on-ground data and current trends that you can rely on.
Groups & Associations: While conducting market research, you can also gather statistics, reports, studies and other data from business groups, trade shows and associations. They will help you pick your niche and find the right target market so you can network with the right people at the local, state and national levels. Associations offer a variety of educational opportunities from webinars to national/international conferences and their topics can include trends, best practices, new techniques etc. Some associations also conduct market research and analysis on their specific industries. Many universities are valuable sources of information, research and a great source of experts.
Networking Groups: Touch base with your potential customers in social circles and family & friends. Pitching your product/service to them first will give you a first-hand experience of what your peer circle thinks of it. It’s a non-expensive way of finding out the flaws and ironing them out before the big rollout. Talking to your peers in business groups and association can be one of the most valuable ways of gaining informal data about a region or customer base. You can learn from others in the industry and even form partnerships or alliances to expand the reach of your business. Associations offer a bridge to communicate with competitors in a collaborative environment.
Online Research: When conducting the market research, it is important today to consider online research as well. The keyword research is a super easy, fast and free way to get a feel for your product or business demand. Tools such as Google Keyword Planner will give you an idea about how many people are searching for your product/service during any given time. You can also use online tools to find out trends and search a particular product or business idea. It will allow you to compare volumes, geographic areas and how demand varied from place to place. It will give you a good idea of where your customers are, where they are placed and their spending patterns. You can also get demographic and economic data from government sources such as the Census, OECD, World Bank, Economic Survey, RBI etc. Franchising websites too are a great source of ideas for possible start-ups.
Do It Yourself (DIY) Methods: This is probably the most versatile options and also time-consuming. However, before you start working out which DIY method to apply, frame the questions that you want answers to, answers that you seek to help create the foundation for your business. Be very specific about what you are seeking as this will be very useful when you put the whole dossier together. This is the most crucial step as everything that follows will be a result of this basic premise. Then, do a market research survey of the consumers—This could be done through surveys, which can either be on social media or sent through email/newsletters or one-on-one interviews. One can also consider conducting focus groups, product/service tests, usability tests and task analysis or even hire a research firm to do the basic groundwork. Leverage social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to widen your market research sample.
The amount of market research you do is limited only by time or budget (if you hire someone else to do it). Doing the due diligence will ultimately be the difference between the success or failure of your start-up.