Have No Fear: Tips to Make Your Research Easier

If you’re like many of the clients I’ve worked with over the years, you might be procrastinating now that it’s time to substantiate the claims and assumptions that you’ve made in your business plan.

The thought of researching your business concept can be overwhelming. Where do you begin?
Here are some tips to help make the research process easier for you:

Remember, it’s a process.

Chances are you won’t be able to find all the information you need in one session. Market research is like a jigsaw puzzle; you add new pieces of information as you find them. If you’re entering a mature, saturated market, you’ll likely find lots of information. If you’re entering a new market, your research will take more time and effort.

Start with sources that are free.

Why spend money before you have to? Access free sources such as your local library, government sources, industry associations, and company websites, or online databases at Small Business BC; then supplement your findings with relevant fee-based reports, and primary research such as interviews, surveys, and focus groups.

Follow related links.

Check the related links listed on relevant websites to find more pieces to your research puzzle.

Use at least three different sources.

Don’t just rely on the first information you come across, especially if you found the information online. Seek out other sources to cross-reference and verify your data. Different sources also provide different perspectives and may provide new angles to explore.

Keep an open mind.

Don’t approach your research with the objective of supporting pre-determined conclusions or you’ll likely miss new opportunities. For instance, if you have your mind set on a particular target market, you might miss an entirely different market niche that you could profitably cater to.

Establish contacts and build relationships.

Talk to people within your industry, with your customers (existing and/or potential), and with your suppliers and distributors. Some of the best, most relevant, and accurate information will come from people who work directly in your industry or market and who know it from the inside out.

Always keep your notebook and pen handy.

Write down key points and keep track of your sources so when you need to reference or update your information, you’ll know where you found it.