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Saturday, 12 January 2008

Think of strategy as a cyclic loop. You need a vision and some goals to have some kind of starting point, and then you need to do some research and analysis to figure out whether they are sensible or not, and then you need to revise them based on what you've learnt and back again until you're happy you're in the right place. And then a little while later you have to repeat the cycle again, just to make sure you're still on the right track, and so on periodically.

So this post is about the next step... Market Research & Analysis.

Why?

Some people make the business of research and analysis very complicated, and you can go into as much detail as you like, but for start-ups at stage 1, the important thing is to understand what’s happening around you for two reasons

  1. You don’t waste your time and money doing something that either won’t work, or has already been done to death by lots of other companies with more resources
  2. You are able to show possible investors:
    • how your offering differentiates, and
    • that it has opportunities to succeed financially or otherwise in whichever market you are planning to enter
Market Research is fundamentally about two things. 
  1. Finding out what your potential customers or target audience will make of your offering; whether or not they want it, will use it and/or will pay for it in the way you are hoping they will. 
  2. Finding out about who else is in your space, what they're doing, how they're doing it, and how they stack up against each other. It is about checking to see if there's any demand for what you're offering and which bits of it your audience will really like.
At it's simplest Research for startups is about:
  • Segmenting (categorising) your competitors and audience
  • Looking for trends
  • Reading, reviewing and making notes - Online vs offline
  • Capturing both qualitative and quantitative information
  • Running Questionnaires, Surveys & Interviews
  • Group discussions with stakeholders and focus groups
  • Subscriptions to research houses – Datamonitor, Forrester, Mintel
  • Subscriptions to blogs and news related to your idea
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