Simple Market Research for Your Business

Whether you are a massive corporation or a fledgling startup, understanding your market is absolutely essential. Without a deep understanding of your industry, your competition will quickly outflank you and leave you wondering where it all went wrong.

Fortunately, there are more resources for conducting business research than ever before — provided you know how to use them. The following is a basic roadmap that can help you analyze your industry and draft a coherent business strategy that you can use to grow your business as fast as possible.

Before investing in any strategy, conduct market research.

Would you play a game like Risk without knowing the rules? A few might decide to do so, but those are the people who often find themselves outmatched by the people who spent the time to understand the mechanics of the game and perhaps even some possible strategies.

Business works the same way, except, of course, for the fact that the stakes tend to be much higher — your career and your money, your investors’ money or both. It makes sense, then, that you should spend some time conducting market research on your particular industry, which you can then use to inform your overall business strategy.

What does market research actually entail?

Often, you can get a fairly clear picture of an industry by reading company blogs and publications to which industry experts frequently contribute. Browse through the news for stories about market strategies that other companies — in other words, your competitors — have utilized. If you have access to industry analysts from firms like Forrester and Gartner, leverage them. At a minimum, answer the following questions:

  1. What competitors are doing and saying?
    Instead of wasting precious time and resources learning from your own mistakes, you can instead learn from the mistakes and successes of others in your industry. Right off the bat, this will help close the gap between you and the more established players in your field.
  2. How the industry itself measures success?
    What does a promising and/or successful company look like? How did it get to where it is? What are the key performance indicators that are used to measure one company’s success against others?
  3. What is the size of the overall market and any specific or related sectors that could come into play?
    Knowing whether and where the industry is growing is important, as well.
  4. What are the regulations on the federal, state and local levels with which you will need to comply?
    Not only that, but in today’s politically volatile environment, it’s just as important to stay abreast of where the political winds are blowing with regard to your industry, so you can be prepared if and when regulatory changes come knocking.
  5. What is the minimum amount of resources required to successfully compete in the market?
    Do you need investors? How will operating costs change as you grow? What expenses will increase with size, and which will benefit from economies of scale?

Once you have analyzed the answers to these questions, your business strategy should start to naturally take shape. Of course, it can be helpful to consult with an expert (or a team of experts) that really knows how to market your business, so your business strategy can be leveraged within your particular industry.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources on the Internet, as well as marketing experts available for hire, who can help ensure that your business is as successful as it deserves to be.

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