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3 Ways to do Basic Market Research

January 10, 2010

Entrepreneurs typically get started in business with a hunch but when business planning—or getting funding from investors—comes into play; or if the entrepreneur simply wants to substantiate his or her hunch, then market research becomes important.

Research can get very expensive but there are a few ways to get the information you are seeking without paying an arm and leg for it:

  1. Search the World Wide Web: You can cobble together information from various sites on the web to determine whether your hunch about the viability of a particular product or service is justified.  You can check everything from Google to Twitter to federal goverment agencies.  In fact, STAT-USA, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, offers business, trade and economic information from across U.S. government organizations. 
  2. Pay for a firm’s basic research report: There are many market, trends and business research firms that you can contact—or whose websites you can visit—to get research for the industry in which you’re interested.  Well known firms like Forrester Research often offer some information free on their websites; and you can search your topic and buy downloadable PDF reports for topics not offered complimentary.
  3. Hire a bright MBA student: Graduate students in business programs are trained and educated to manage business risk and to build a case for companies to start or grow. Market research is a tremendous part of this.  Contact the student employment office or professors at a university in your local area to post or distribute a project announcement to find a good student who can help you.  The other upside to this—besides the reasonable price you will pay the student—is that students can access academic, government and other databases through their schools, that might otherwise require very expensive subscriptions, to complete the research reporting you need. 
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