The Herald-Times

It’s Your Business

The first step is research

By Steve Bryant
A Bloomington voice
January 25, 2013

People come to the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech-Bloomington daily to start a new business. Most are at the idea stage and have not done the research necessary to truly get things moving forward in the near term. The interest is there, but there needs to be more questions asked and answered in order to prepare for the successful start of a new business.

One of the questions we often get is where can I find market research about the field I am entering? According to Wikipedia, market research is generally best described as any organized effort to find information about markets or customers. It can also help you define your competition in the market.

Peter Drucker, a famous management author, believes that “market research is for discovering what people want, need or believe. It can also help you discover how they act. Once that research is completed, it can help you determine how to market your product.”

We are just beginning a new year, and perhaps you’ve made a decision to plan for a new business in 2013. Performing market research should be one of the first things you do as you begin to strategize before going into business. It is an essential part of any business plan and probably the most important part of understanding what people think about what you will be selling. There are companies all over the Internet that perform market research for a living and write detailed reports on many industries. The challenge is, this is often expensive. If you are a startup with limited cash on hand to purchase, you may not be able to afford this expertise.

We recommend doing some very simple market research functions. First, Google everything you can about a particular market or industry. You may be able to find some interesting statistics, business plans or research reports for free. Second, I like the direct approach, so search out people already in the industry or business you want to develop. Ask anyone you can about the product or service. Would you buy this product, what would you pay, or how would you use it? This is particularly important if this is a new product or service. I know several people in the business of developing mobile apps for your smartphone, and this is what they do constantly. Look for user feedback and ideas to help refine the product.

If you are looking to sell a consumer product, go to the store where competitor products are sold and see what the price is, what type of packaging they come in, where the product placed in the store. All this information will be critical to helping you decide if this is the right product in the right place at the right time. Look for markets that are not oversaturated with competition. Are there only two or three competitors or are there hundreds? If you want demographic information, can provide a wealth of information on population, household income, gender, ethnicity and other useful statistics to help guide you in your research through its searchable tools and databases.

So, BEFORE you launch a new business, check out some of these free tools. Hopefully these are a few simple tips to help you get organized and informed. Good luck and get out there and “do it.”

Steve Bryant is executive director of the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Bloomington. Next week, Bloomington’s Danise Alano-Martin will share her views.

Copyright: 2013

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.