Why… Let’s face it, carrying out research can seem an arduous task especially when you really just want to start your business. But… it is one of those things that if you can put in the time and energy at this point then you will reap the rewards, and it will mean you can start with confidence because you know who your target audience is, where you want to trade, and whether or not you would benefit from tweaking your initial ideas, or even having a complete re-think before you’ve invested everything into an idea that perhaps wouldn’t give you the rewards you deserve.
Primary vs secondary… Primary research is fantastic. Getting out there to see for yourself what people think. This is rather dependent however on, a) meeting the relevant people, b) the people you meet being able to think on their feet – that’s if they choose to stop and talk to you in the first place, c) spending hours travelling to different locations. Doing online research also has its own difficulties in reaching the right people. So, primary research is excellent, but then so is secondary. A bit of both is really the best option, but perhaps using secondary research first is a good way to start identifying where you really want to be so that by the time you get to primary research you have a clear focus of what you need to know and therefore what questions to ask.
What you can get… Secondary research can give you an amazing amount of invaluable information. Information such as current trends in the industry, and forecasts of how the industry is expected to grow (or otherwise!). Not only in the UK but also globally. Having a global viewpoint can help you identify if the UK is forecast to be a strong market for you to get your business up and running and also for identifying growth opportunities. Most industries can be affected by what is happening globally, eg if you are working with manufacturers abroad then what happens with them will have a direct impact on your business, or there may be changes in consumer trends that could have an impact, so knowing what’s going on in the rest of the world is important. If you are looking to develop your business further afield anyway then published research can help you identify which country/ies you could be potential markets.
Extra information for research… A great form of market research is company data. With this data you can check out the companies in your industry and make your own judgement call by looking at their financial records and SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analyses. Using the SWOT analyses for those companies can give you a huge starting point as this will identify things that could also affect your business and give you an idea of what things could help you be successful.
The practical stuff… Other essential research is on a practical level, such guidance on budget forecasting or how to go about hiring staff, what licences you may need and likely start-up costs, and so much more.
So… what next? If you’ve read this far then perhaps you would like to know how to go about getting all this information. Come and see us at the City Business Library. We not only source relevant, reliable and powerful information for you, but the Library covers the cost of it for you and helps you to use it. With a [FREE] membership you will also be able to get remote access to some of our resources.
There is no catch… the Library’s specialist information is free! We are a public service and our purpose is to help anyone who has a business information need. Our website will give you a bit of information on what we have but there’s nothing quite like coming along to have a look for yourself! www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/cbl
Wendy Foster, Business Librarian | Business Start-Up Adviser.