If you are starting your own business, you probably have a great idea, a new way of looking at things, or a vision.
But have you thought about how you can exploit a niche, or differentiate yourself from the competition with a Unique Selling Point (USP)?
Many business owners underestimate the importance of researching their target market and learning about the potential competition. Yet undertaking market research in the early stages can minimise the chance of failure.
Know your competitors
Whatever your business, there is always competition. Before you start up, make sure you have studied all the potential competitors.
This means indirect as well as direct competition. Direct competition is usually obvious: a new plumbing business will be in competition with all of the other plumbers in the area.
You might need to think more laterally to identify the indirect competition. For example, a new flower shop on the high street should view the local chocolate shop as a potential competitor (since both are in the gifts market); while the Italian restaurant has competition from the local cinema.
Know the difference
Having thought laterally to identify them, continue thinking in the same vein to work out how to persuade potential customers to come to you.
For example, the Italian restaurant could consider a cheap early evening menu to capture theatre and cinema-goers without taking too much more of their hard-earned cash.
Showing that you have conducted research into your market will also help when you come to present your business plan to would-be financiers.
A vision based on real research has more chance of becoming realised.