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Tips to do Market Research for Business at a Shoestring Budget

Whether you are just starting out as an entrepreneur or are already running a business for years, you should know about your market. Market research is important while you are running a business but it is extremely essential in the start-up phase. A comprehensive market research will provide you valuable factual information about your business, industry, competitors and customers. This way, you be able to determine your business niche and make an effective plan to run a successful business. In addition to this, a thorough market research will enable you to formulate necessary plans and choose correct paths for business expansion. Basically, market research is the foundation of any business and it determines whether your business will reach the sky or burn down in flames.

Every entrepreneur and business owner knows the importance of a good market research for their business. However, budget constrains can create various complications to do it properly. If you are in this situation, then here are some methods you can follow to do the market research at a low budget.

Conduct a survey or a focus group discussion

For any business owners, it is important to know their consumers to ensure the level of quality and demand of their products or services. The best way to do this is by talking to the customers or potential customers, and knowing what their needs are, to respond to these needs appropriately. Surveys and focus groups are one of the common ways to achieve this. As surveys and focus group discussions require very less use of financial resources, this might very well fit in your tight budget. What you will require is a set of questionnaires that is appropriately calibrated to suit targeted demographics. You can deliver these questionnaires through various cheap communicative means like e-mail, internet or phone.

However, if you want to have a thorough understanding of your market and your customers’ desires then you can conduct a focus group discussion. Invite 8-10 participants (could include critics) for about a 90 minutes long focus group discussion. If your forte does not lie in making the questionnaires or running a discussion then you can take help from your friends, relatives, mentors or other advisors. Avoid hiring people for this because it might cost you more.

Take help from your trade association

When you are a part of a trade association, you might be able to gather loads of information about your market from them. Trade associations, apart from other practices, also keep tabs on the market and its present and past scenarios along with future projections. They collect information on industry growth trends, new market opportunities, present demands on certain products and services and similar other things. This information is then converted into reports and made available to their association members. If you are not a member of an association then you might want to join one and gather this information with little or no financial expenditure.

Use magazines, publications and internet

Trade journals, business magazines, newspapers and newsletters, all contain vast amount of vital information on the market trends. Reading these publications will help understand your market, know your competitors and make proper plans to run your business, and most importantly, it won’t cost you more than few bucks. Even your mentors and advisors gather information through these means. So, why don’t you?

Furthermore, you can also use the internet to do your market research. Most governmental and local organizations including trade associations and established entrepreneurs have their own websites and publish information on their sites. You can also use the internet to know about your competitors and research on other businesses with similar services or products. Follow your competitors, professional advisors, successful entrepreneurs, government associations and other agencies on social media sites and keep track of the industry market.

Suggestion: If you want to collect information about your market then Statistics Canada, Local chambers of commerce and libraries can also help you with that.

Prioritize information

You can mistakenly choose to conduct standard market researches to obtain information about your market. However, these resources might give you information, which is not relevant to your needs. This means that your financial resources will go to waste. In addition to getting un-relevant data, you might also get incomplete information. So try to concentrate on the information that will help you achieve best and quickest results. The level of signification of the information is determined by how focused your research is.

Therefore, invest your resources and research-methods onto needed information only.

SubhashSharma

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Mr. Sharma is a management accountant with over 33 years of experience in small business. He has been engaged in independent accounting practice since 2003. With MBA degree in IT Management and CPA, CMA designation he believes in creating value for the clients. Mr. Sharma has been actively involved in imports, exports, retail, construction and IT consulting. He has written articles in the “Canadian Immigrant” magazine on taxation and accounting for small business. He has served as director on the boards of York Regional Community Foundation, Community Living of York South and Surrey Foundation. He is a member of CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers), Rotary Club of Richmond Hill, Markham Board of Trade and Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce.

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