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You know you want to start or expand your business, but you need to know about potential competition, customers and trends.
We’re talking of course about market research. For instance, what price your customers are willing to pay, where they shop, and how and where they spend their money, will influence how you market and sell your product or service.
There are two types of market research: primary and secondary.
Primary: involves conducting personalized research for your business from original sources such as surveys or focus groups. Businesses often hire a market research firm to help them.
Secondary: is market research that uses existing information, and is how many small or medium-sized businesses find out about their customers. This information is usually inexpensive or free, and can provide a high return on investment. Government services, business publications and public libraries are some low-cost sources of secondary market information.
For some small business owners, market research can seem like an investment of time, money and energy, but it’s worth getting to know your customers. “One of the biggest challenges for my clients is completing market research,” says Elizabeth Teleki, manager of a Small Business Enterprise Centre in Ontario, which provides consultations to start-up and expanding businesses.
Teleki recommends using Canada Business Ontario’s free secondary market research along with other business information services. “I have often used the website (www.canadabusiness.ca) to provide further information to clients on how to develop market research,” says Teleki. Call their Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888 to access free information on government programs, services and regulations or watch their short video on market research.
The Government of Canada has designated 2011 as the Year of the Entrepreneur. Market research can mean the difference between success and failure. So if this is your year to take your business to the next level, be sure to do your homework.