It is essential that before you even start thinking about your own business, you conduct extensive research into the marketplace. This means understanding your target audience and knowing who your potential customers are, where they are and what they are looking for. It also means you identify your competition: what other companies are offering similar products or services, what makes them successful and what is their point of difference? Think about your product or service, compare it to those your competition is currently offering and find out what’s missing – identify areas of opportunity or an unmet demand in the marketplace.
Conducting this research will allow you to determine your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP is what makes you stand out from the competition – the differentiating factor between your product and the one next to it on the shelf. This is the reason a customer should choose you. Make sure you’ve identified your USP or niche before you start planning your business as it will give you a clearer sense of direction.
One of the most effective methods of research is by conducting market research questionnaires. Although this is a fairly expensive resource, it can give you a detailed insight into customer behaviour and opinions. It will allow you to learn more about your potential target market and will help you customise your products or services to attract these customers more effectively.