What is Market Research?
Whether it’s Air Canada, Canadian Tire, or even the local clothing boutique in your neighborhood, everyone who owns a successful business has done market research, and should continue to do so in order to remain competitive. Market research is about analyzing and assessing what is happening outside of your business. You need to analyze the political, economic, societal, and technological factors that directly affect what you have to offer, and don’t forget to analyze your competitors too. What do they do differently than you, or the same? How will you differentiate yourself to gain market share and earn your clients’ business?

The internal and external analysis of your enterprise is about understanding your customers, how you can position yourself against your competition, understanding the key players, and learning what drives their success. It is a golden rule for an entrepreneur that you must do market research. You should not assume your idea will be successful just because you believe in it, or skip market research because you don’t want to invest the money or the time. This is a big reason that so many small businesses fail in the first few years of operation; don’t underestimate how necessary it is to understand the market and the feasibility of your project in the long-term.

Why Market Research is Important
Market research is the foundation of a business plan and usually a prerequisite for business loans. In fact, a business plan won’t be complete until you include market research to show the viability of your company. Your research needs to confirm that there is a need for your product or service, who your target clientele is, how to best reach them, how much they would be willing to pay, and how your business offering compares to similar products/services.

Types of Research
There are two types of research you will need to conduct: primary and secondary. Secondary research actually comes first, and includes delving into information already available. Good examples of places to find research data include: Statistics Canada, libraries, trade-specific publications, as well as any financial data available from your competitors. You can also look up business articles on Business Week, Entrepreneur Magazine, Canada Business Network, and Futurpreneur.

If your secondary research validates the feasibility of moving forward, you can continue with primary research such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups of potential customers. We encourage you to take the time to do all the research on your own; you can keep your costs down by doing it yourself and you will also be more likely to appreciate and understand your market.

Useful Resources
There are many resources that exist to help entrepreneurs perform market research at little to no cost so don’t let money be the obstacle that prevents you from starting your business! Info Entrepreneur has a specialized and free research service which provides secondary research options like demographic information, consumer trends, industry trends, and more.

You can also explore Google Trends or Entrepreneur.com, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or need some help, check out YES, a community organization that offers online and in-person business coaching across Quebec. Your YES business coach is there to help you plan your market research, and help oversee the writing of your business plan. You can also partake in useful workshops such as the Business Bootcamp which helps deepen your understanding of your customers, how your enterprise will work, and how you can become profitable. Learn more at: www.yesmontreal.ca