Research Is THE Key Step To Strengthen Your Business Ideas
Have an invention or business idea that you think can be successful?
Invest in research to save yourself money and energy, protect your ego, and be “in the know”. Be prepared with a solid hold on all the pros and cons surrounding your idea. Here are some resources to help you uncover pertinent facts that will either torch your initial hunches or give them strength.
Beyond Initial Search
After you’ve completed an initial search for your new potential business idea you need to dig deeper and determine both potential and pitfalls ahead.
Ignorance can be broken down into two parts, Know You Don’t Know (KYDK) and Don’t Know You Don’t Know (DKYDK). The goal is eliminate the first and shrink the second. Fortunately we live in the information age, and now more than ever, you have access to practically any information you could possibly want or need. It isn’t always sitting there on a silver plate ready for you to retrieve it, however with some effort and looking in the right places you can get many questions answered.
Start by Brainstorming - Solidify What You Do Know
List out all of the attributes of your concept, compile all keywords and key phrases. Detail what makes your product special, but also what makes it the same. What other comparable products already exist, look to their descriptions to help you cull your own. Use mind map tools and try sketching to help you visualize all the details and how they fit together.
Determine What You Don’t Know
After you have outlined the basics of your product, and have begun to flesh out some of the elements that make it valuable, questions should readily start rising up. Are your perceptions of the opportunity aligning with the reality of the market? What is becoming clearer (target market, design, production possibilities) what seems to still be murky (market size, costs)? Embrace the questions and use them to begin your adventure down the information rabbit holes that await! Just make sure to stay organized along the way.
Where To Look For Your Facts
- USPTO.Gov - What has already been attempted or achieved?
- USA.Gov/Business/Reference - Business publications and resources
- USA.Gov/Business/Business-Data - Business data and statistics
- Census Bureau - Start assessing size of target markets
- Data.Gov - Open data
Libraries - Shelves, databases and librarians waiting for your inquiries
- Public Libraries
- University libraries
- Digital Public Library
- Special Libraries (Medical, Law, Museum)
Trade and Professional Organizations - Centralized similar businesses and experts
- Annual Conferences
- Networking with industry experts
- Publications and studies supporting the industry
Startup and Entrepreneur focused groups
- Learn from other's experience and mistakes
- If possible, find a mentor
- Inc., Fast Company, and Entrepreneur magazines
- Visit startup related events and spaces
You Don’t Know If You Don’t Ask
By capturing as much as you can about this potential product/service, you will be able to begin honestly evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your idea and start thinking critically about viability. Once you have a strong description of what you will offer, and an understanding of what may already be available in the market - start asking the hard questions. Mindtools.com is an excellent resource full of critical thinking techniques and strategy tools to help you ask the right questions.
The Research Investment Is Worth It
At this stage the biggest investment is just your time (maybe a few bucks here and there to access paid data and some research papers), but keep in mind ‘time is money’. By taking time to fully research and explore your idea, you should be able to more easily conclude if your venture should remain a hobby, or if it can actually become a successful business endeavor.
Rachel Jackson - Peacock Publicity
Rachel Jackson is an Indianapolis-based publicist and integrated marketing consultant who is enthusiastic about equipping small businesses. She has been supporting entrepreneurs and startups for more than ten years by implementing bottom-line focused ideas. You can reach her at PeacockPublicity.com.