Starting up your own business – Research! Don’t assume

I couldn’t stop researching the Salmon Shop in Granville Island markets, Vancouver CA

It is a common problem when starting up your own business to assume that consumers want to buy the very thing that you have to sell.  Most people do it but it is a very dangerous assumption to make.

You may have had an incredible light bulb moment where your business future became clear to you in a flash of light, but your great idea must first be converted to a saleable product, and that product must be supported with a reliable service offering.   You must also think about what your prospective customers are hoping to achieve by buying from you.  Are you solving a problem for them?

It is a truism in business that “More small businesses lose customers because of poor service than bad products.”  What consumers demand these days is more than your bare product.  All consumers expect you to be reputable and ethical but depending on what you are doing, they also demand:

  • Technical information
  • The chance to ask questions
  • A fair refund policy
  • A guarantee or warranty
  • Ongoing education
  • Regular contact
  • Periodic review
  • Automatic upgrades
  • And the list goes on …

But above all, consumers want the experience that your product and service promises, even though you may never explicitly promise it.  You may have the most technically sound product but it still might fail to deliver on an emotional level.  While you are thinking ‘technical’, they are thinking ‘lifestyle’.

Consider a wedding as an example!  The bride and groom want their wedding day to be the most happy and memorable day of their lives.  It is an experience that they are buying.  Gowns, dresses, suits, flowers, cars, church, reception, music, food, drink, cake and photos are some of the products commonly involved, but without extraordinary service from each of those suppliers, and some deft coordination, the experience could easily turn out to be a nightmare.

The key to understanding the length and breadth of consumer demand for your product is to do some research rather than assume.  In other words, “do your homework!”

Where to start?  Well your future customers are currently buying from others at the moment.  Those ‘others’ will soon be your competitors.  So have a good hard look at what they are doing and how they do it.  Learn from your competitors, especially the ones who are doing it well.  Understand their success factors!

There is a wealth of information on the internet.  And it is free.  Just search on any topic and you will find websites, blogs and discussion forums galore.  Most of your competitors will have a website.  Back it up with some mystery shopping.  Industry associations also have a lot of industry specific information, some of which is free.  In Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has a lot of information, most of which is now free.  There are also many free resources provided by State and federal governments that offer encouragement and incentives if you are starting up your own business.

If you seek startup advice or a powerful online business presence when starting up your own business visit

Until next time!