Learning from other companies…

If you are thinking about starting a business, a great way to research the market/industry sector is to check out other companies already trading in your sector.  Two main elements to use:

  • Financials – look at the financials of companies such as ratios, profits, turnover. These can help you see the trends in an industry.  Make sure you look at several companies and not just one so you can get a balanced view.  Search by a range of criteria, from location to size to how long they’ve been in business.  This can really help give you an idea of what is happening in that sector…and…who your potential competitors are!
  • SWOT analyses – these are the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A fantastic way of helping you with your business plan and even with your business ideas.  Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors – what you and your company have, and the opportunities and threats are external – how other companies, or other factors happening out there in the big wide world, could impact on your business.

Whether this sounds simple, complicated or even dull, it is definitely worth spending time doing some of this research.  It can pay huge dividends in helping you find out what is going on in your industry/market sector and can help identify if your idea is a goer, or if you would be better tweaking it or changing it.  Don’t reinvent the wheel – learn from others to help you get your foot on the first rung of the business ladder.


Wendy Foster

Business Librarian and Start-up Adviser at the City Business Library

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