Small business answers — NOW!

Information about market research

Should I hire a market research firm to determine if my product or service will sell? 
If you can afford it, the answer is "probably." However, most small businesses -- especially start-ups -- don't have this kind of expense in their budget.

If you fit in the latter category, there are things you can do to minimize the cost and maximize the information.

- Introduce your product or service to othes and ask their opinions. Be sure to ask people who don't love you.

- Go online to see who sells what you intend to sell and what their market position is, their pricing strategy, their sales pitch or unique selling proposition (UPS), etc.

- Check with the local chamber of commerce to see what it knows about market data, demographic data, economic trends, etc.

- Research your industry to see where it, as well your products, are with regard to whether they are considered emerging, mature, or obsolete.

- Various departments of the Federal government offer research data, such as the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce and Department of Labor or even the Census Bureau.

When you need information and don't have the capital to outsource that project, good old-fashioned shoe leather and elbow grease are the answer. 
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