Keeping up to date is key
Research, reach out, and reflect will be the mantra for any small business owners who want to stay on top of their game when it comes to knowing their market, their competitors and their customers.
Knowledge is power and knowing the right things will be priceless to you and your business, however you need to see this as a regular, repeated, on-going process and not just a job to do once and never again.
The markets out there are fast and fluid-whatever small business you are in. Taking the time to check in regularly with what’s going on in your business world will pay off royally in the long run.
What will you gain from your research?
- Up to date knowledge of what is going on in your business industry
- A clear understanding of what your customers want and need
- Who your competitors are and what type of services they are offering
- Where to go for the best value suppliers and distributors
- New developments and ideas that could help your small business to really flourish
- Inspiration to keep you loving your business and reminding you why you do what you do every day!
So, what do you need to do and where do you need to start?
- Timetable dedicated research time into your work schedule, an hour or two or three-weekly-fortnightly-monthly-whatever works for you.
- Begin compiling a range of resources that will give you the up to date information that you will need each time: websites, leaflets, contacts, phone numbers, meet-ups, conferences, webinars, surveys, news articles, advertisements, press releases, price lists, reviews/complaints, planning applications, ideas for future growth, what has gone well or hasn’t.
- Set up your own e-directory or files for all these resources and separate these out into market areas that these will feed in to.
- Pick a market ‘area’ each time that is relevant to you and your business, for example: competitors, customers, suppliers, demand, distributers, employee expectations/salaries, marketing.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself. Chunk the areas of research out so that you ‘check in’ with each market area little and often if necessary. The idea is that the knowledge you gain is up-to date and relevant and able to help you progress your small business.
- If you are really pushed for time then think about what you can do while you are on-the-go: TedTalks or podacsts to listen to during admin or down time; a telephone check in with a contact between appointments, grabbing resources while you are out and about.
- Take some time each session to reflect and note down what you have learnt, how it will benefit your business and what actions you need to take to utilise this new information.
Remember: start small, schedule time, get organised, gather and catalogue resources, chunk down research, reflect on the information you have gathered, set actions.