SME Adviser Series: Market research – Do your homework

14 Dec 2017

If you’re a small or medium sized (SME) business owner, you’re probably wondering when you should start conducting market research - you may even be wondering if you need to do it at all.

The answer is a resounding yes. And the sooner you start it, the more money you will save in the long run.

Market research is an important aspect of business planning for both start ups and growing businesses, whether it be in uncovering the merits of a new product to a market, developing a business idea or producing a new service.

It is also essential when considering the sale or purchase of a business, to ascertain demand for the product or service, thereby contributing to a better understanding of its potential for future growth and appreciation, as well as its current and future brand value.

And it will also help you to avoid making costly poor business decisions now and further down the track.

Market research doesn’t need to be an expensive process. It can be a simple DIY process done in-house by asking 10 to 20 of your larger existing customers a couple of simple questions, such as:

- "Who do you see as my competitors?"
- "What makes you use our products/services, rather than those of our competitors?"

The information you gain from these simple questions could give you some valuable information about your unique selling points; what’s working (and what isn’t working); possible new target markets or products/services you should be considering; and gauging other business strengths and weaknesses.

But whilst market research doesn’t need to be complicated and convoluted, it must be considered.

- Be clear about what you want to achieve – make sure you are asking the right questions in the right way to avoid confusion.
- Use decent sized samples of people you’re researching – and don’t only speak to ‘friends’ of the business; also approach challenging customers.
- Don’t just do the research once and leave it at that. Find out how things have changed once new ideas have been implemented – and determine if they’re working for you in achieving your business aspirations.

At Beavis Morgan, we know that starting up and running your own business can be very rewarding, provided the appropriate processes are followed and the right structures are in place.

Experience is the best teacher and our team of startup business experts have plenty of experience. We are well versed in working with businesses of different shapes and sizes and across a range of sectors, so you can rely on our detailed understanding of the processes required in achieving business success.

We have also acted on a significant number of M&A deals for SME and owner-managed businesses and are able to assist in both the buying and selling of businesses.

For more information about how we can help you and your business, contact Steve Govey or your usual Beavis Morgan Partner.

Further reading: SME Adviser Series: When did you last complete a competitor analysis?