What to Research When Starting a Business


When you have a big idea and you want to make it happen, it pays to put a little thought into your research. With so much to think about and so many things to put in place before you open your doors for business, it can be hard to know where to start, can’t it?

To give you an edge over the competition, we’ve compiled a list of the basics that you need to be thinking about. That way you can ensure you get your new business off to the best possible start.

Know Your Target Market and Identify What They Want

Your customers are the people who will support your business and provide the revenue that allows you to grow. This may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many businesses fail to think about their target market. You need to have a clear idea of who you’re selling to and what makes them tick. That way you’ll be able to focus your efforts on connecting with them, rather than hoping that they find you.

A great way to do this is to conduct a survey in your local area. Think about an eatery for example; if there are already half a dozen Indian restaurants on your local high street, chances are people don’t want another one. If there’s space for a new sushi bar however…

It makes sense when you think about it like this, right? Identify what your target market wants and it will start to become clear how to refine your offer so that it focuses on attracting them to your door.

Do You Know What Your Competitors are doing?

Again, this is a question that too few businesses ask. If there’s a giant dominant player in your intended sector, then it’s worth considering whether you can actually compete with them. There’s no shame in deciding that you are better off targeting a different market in the face of overwhelming competition. But there is shame in missing this vital point and ploughing time and money into something that on reflection was too big a task for you to take on.

There will always be more opportunities, so make sure you keep your options open. Even a slight realignment of your business’ core values and objectives can see you attract a wealth of new customers by carving out a niche of your own.

What Kind of Cashflow Can You Expect

Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business; it’s what allows you to be flexible in your decision making and stick to a long-term strategy. Many people think that profit is the be all and end all, but it’s cashflow that gets you to that point.

If you’re supplying goods and services, you need to consider what your cashflow is likely to be. If you’re not sure, then it is best to do a little research into a competitor so that you can get a better idea of how your industry works. By getting to know the typical payment and lead times for various goods and services, you’ll be able to develop a financially viable long-term strategy. Fail to do so, and you’re effectively consigning your new business to the scrapheap before it has even gotten off the ground.

Another important point to bear in mind is that this will likely not be something you can handle on your own – which is why outsourcing all cash-related tasks might be the best choice. Find a reliable accounting service that will help keep your head above water.

Do You Know What You Need to Invest in to Get Set up?

This is such an important question to ask. If you need special equipment or you need to keep an inventory of stock, then you’re going to need to budget accordingly. Failure to do so will impact massively on your cashflow and constrain your strategic decision making. The question is: ‘how do you do it?’

The secret is to try and simplify your business into its core aims and values. Once you’ve done that, you can then think about the key services you’d like to provide or the products that you’d like to manufacture. This will allow you to take a step back and see the big picture so that you can then scrutinize whether you really need that fancy new computer system you’ve been thinking about.

Keep things lean to begin with, and you’ll be storing up flexibility and adaptability for when you may need it later on.

Do You Need Specialist Permits or Insurance in Place before You Start Trading?

This is a crucial one if you don’t want to run the risk of falling foul of the law once it seems like your business has started to turn a corner. There’s no worse feeling than being suspended or shut down after months of hard work, so make sure you check everything thoroughly. If you’re not clear then Citizens Information or a local solicitor will be able to guide you through the process.

Hopefully, this list has given you plenty of food for thought and shown you that with a little bit of focus, you can get your new business up and running in no time at all.

Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.

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