Market research is an essential element to any business who wants to expand its size, capacity and effectiveness. For as much as intuition is an invaluable skill for all those who are starting a business from scratch, the difference that effective research can make is easy to notice. How and at what levels and can you analyse the market in the sector you operate?
First and foremost, you need to take a look around. Your competitors have been on the market for much longer than you. They’ve done it and seen it all. That’s the ideal situation for a start-up to bring something fresh to the table: analyse what they are doing right, and spot their weaknesses. Apart from that simple research for recent competitor-related news, there are proper tools out there which allow you to search through Company House data and learn a lot more than you would otherwise.
With 20 years of financial history, full corporate structures, director timelines and litigations all available online, the picture about your competitors will be clear enough for you to know more about their performance and think about their future prospects. But knowing about your competitors alone is not enough: still through such web-based tool and attentive Company House analysis, you’ll be able to look at suppliers’ financial data and make your call whether you’re doing business with stable, reliable companies, or flimsy and short-lived ones.
While these types of internet research fall into the wider category of ‘secondary research’, what’s called ‘primary research’ plays a role just as vital in the way it gives information about the internal performance of your company: engage with your customers through focus groups and surveys to find out how they directly react to your business decisions. Even more importantly and perhaps easily, it is advisable that you establish a solid and engaging presence online, so that you can directly measure customers’ reaction to your message and keep a steady flow of communication with them.
Overall, for start-ups it’s all about making the best of what the web has to offer for free: Google Trends and Ad Words will give you an idea of what people are looking for and the volumes of search for services related to your company’s offering.
It is right there that your business intuition will come into play once again and lead you through the digital age. If mixed with proper analysis, it will represent an inspiring direction for the whole company.