Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Market Research For Small Businesses

By David G Johnston

If you are considering starting your own business then you need to have a good plan in place to how you will position yourself in the market and how you will operate. These factors are crucial for ensuring your long term success in the business. If you are planning to go to your bank manager for finance to launch your business then he is going to want a detailed business plan from you to be certain that you can pay back your loan in the long run. It is therefore vital that you carry out some market research to determine the viability of your business.

For a small firm or individual starting out you will not have the budget to pay a market research company to do the work for you, but you have an alternative. The most basic form of market research is to create a survey and there is no reason why you can't do this yourself.

Start out by creating a list of key points that relate to your business. If for example you were a car mechanic and decided to go it alone and run your own autoshop you may want to ask people questions like how far they have to travel for autoshop work, how much are they prepared to pay for an oil change, what is the best deal they have found on tyres, what problems they have encountered in the past whilst dealing with garages, how long they typically have to wait for a service, and so on.

If you want to cover more ground then you may want to consider contacting a university or college in your area of a youth group who may be willing to provide researchers for you to carry out your survey for a small fee on the basis that they get some educational value out of it also.

The main reasons you are carrying out the survey is to firstly figure out if there is a need for your particular business in the area and where best to set it up. You need to figure out if you can offer something new or different that people are looking for or would be willing to come to you for. In the above example, lets say you were a female mechanic. Your unique selling position may simply be that you find women car owners are reluctant to go to the autoshop because they don't like dealing with mechanics or they feel that they are being talked down to because the tendency is to believe that women don't understand the mechanics of a car. By offering your services you should be able to secure a good deal of the market in your area.

In your survey, try to have as many open-ended questions as you can. This way you can let your participants provide a much broader set of data and information and you may get both inspiration and a direction for your business from their responses.

If you are a small business and are interested in more ways you can carry out your own market research then perhaps you should consider paying a visit to our business directory where we have many similar tips and advice for business owners. Simply pop along to for more information.

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