One of the most important steps for you – as an entrepreneur – is to know your business better than everyone else. And for that, you need to do some research.
Research is a necessary component in the survival of any business. But it falls into the “things I must do, but really don’t want to” category – people are terrified of doing research.
But that’s not just on the business side of things. Most people hate the idea of sitting through countless amounts of data to figure something or someone out.
Me, I’m a sucker for research. I love learning about how things work. And the reaction of people towards them.
I also realize this is not everyone’s cup of tea. And that there isn’t really an exciting way of doing it.
So, the next series of posts will focus on how to do smart research – so you can save time, effort, and your hairline.
Get Some Time-Saving Tools
Let’s get off on the right foot and gather everything you need to get this task done. These documents hold all the information you need to understand your business, as well as your target market.
- Maps of your target market area (for brick-and-mortar businesses)
- Previous advertisements
- Brochures and catalogs
- Internal memos
- Annual reports
- Public relations materials
- Technical paperwork
- Product/ service specifications, blueprints, and plans
- Past website content
- Archived feedback from product / service users
- Your competitor’s ads and literature
- Customer surveys
- Illustrations, video, and photos of product prototypes
- Market research reports
- Industry research indicating market trends
- Engineering drawings
- Books, magazines, and other media related to your target market
- Business and marketing plans
- Census data showing buyer demographics
- Sales proposals
Collect as many of these documents as you can before moving on to the first part of the research process.
Know Your Business
Before starting to look around for information on who’s going to invest in your business, you need to know your business. That means understanding your product or services on every aspect of its delivery.
Here’s what to look for in the documents I listed above:
- A complete list of product / service features
- A complete list of product / service benefits (highlighting its most important)
- How it works
- How it differentiates itself from the competition
- Should the product / service be no different from its competitors, look for attributes that can be presented to prospects that your competition has not
- What it’s made of
- The sizes and models available
- The technologies you’re competing against
- The product’s applications
- How to use and maintain it
- What it does for the consumer
- And any proof that backs up its claims
- How you’re positioned against your competition
- The efficiency of your product / service
- How economical it is
- How much it costs
- The time it takes for delivery
- Where it can be bought
- Services and support you offer
- Any guarantees
Once you’ve found and archived this information, you’ll be ready to move on to the step: getting to know your audience.