Starting out in wellness, it’s easy to get carried away on the high of planning, creating and visualizing your success. You likely know what you want to offer and where, you set aside the time and the finances to get up and running and you have passion and creativity by the bucket loads to kick your business off.
But let’s press the pause button here for a second – how attuned to the local market are you? Is your offering already available from another business? What are the spending habits of the locals, how many other businesses are offering similar services and is there a gap to fill in the market?
These questions (and their answers) will form part of your overall business success strategy. Market research is not only the basis of your business plan, but it gives you a realistic outlook on the first months and years as a small business. Bonus – if you ever need to seek financial support, it puts you in good stead with financial institutions to have this research in your pocket.
And even when your business is up and running, your research could – and should – be ongoing; it’s never too late to incorporate what you learn into your business strategy and it’s prudent to keep an eye on your local market and adapt when and if you need to.
Knowing Your Local Market is Crucial
The benefits to business research are plentiful. Taking a very close look at the local area will not only help you to establish what is on offer from similar businesses and for what price, but you can also understand more about the local demographic. This helps you see who spends their time and money in that area and what their affordability bracket is, as well as helping you identify gaps in the market that need to be filled.
We know, researching doesn’t sound like a lot of fun but sitting down and working through your ‘what, where and why’ will provide a shot of realistic expectation on what lies ahead. It firmly grounds you in fact, and while passion is a wonderful and essential part of your business journey, having a reality check to refer back to is a valuable tool.
What are the questions that you want to explore? Even if you already think you know the answers, it’s prudent to ask the questions again, just in case the response surprises you. Here are some questions you might want to consider:
- What similar products or services are on offer locally? What are the price points of similar services?
- Look at all the local wellness businesses – what do you like about their offerings? What would you do differently? What seems to work?
- What is the local demographic – it might be young people with a large disposable income, young with no disposable income (students), young families, empty nesters, older demographics with or without income, or something different?
- Is there a wellness focus in the services you see there? If so, which wellness businesses are thriving?
- Is there a gap in the market that you can fill? How can you serve the local people?
- How can you become connected locally – do you have any contacts in the area that could promote you, can you introduce yourself to a wellness business that you might be able to collaborate with?
How to Research
- Online. As always with the internet, there is caution – it does not tell you everything, and what it does tell you might not be relevant, accurate or recent. So while internet research is useful and convenient, it needs to be combined with other, more hands-on research methods to provide a well-rounded picture.
- On foot. Go into other wellness businesses, even use their services if you can, to get a sense of what they offer and what you like or dislike about it. Start conversations and form connections here if you can – other wellness businesses don’t have to be your competition.
- By phone. You can also call businesses and enquire about their pricing and services.
- Ask consumers. Be a part of local community groups on social media, set up a poll or survey to garner interest and need. Where is the gap, what do people want to see or have? Read online reviews on other businesses to try to spot what they might be doing wrong or right.
- Be honest. Always let people know why you are asking questions; people are more forthcoming when they know your reasons for asking. These early connections in your local area will reflect on your business going forward and if they are interested in your services you have a potential client right there!
Applying the Research
The last step is to use the research as a basis for your business strategy. Your business strategy can be laid out in a detailed business plan which includes a marketing strategy, your goals, your requirements and everything else that relates to your business and how it is going to succeed. Find out more about how to create a small business plan here.
While there is no single secret to success in business, you stand a better chance of succeeding with market knowledge and understanding under your business belt. Many small businesses struggle in the first year, and there are a few components to success – strong marketing, good services, pricing – but all of these hinge on the research you will do locally to establish your place in the market.
And remember – research is an ongoing project. Social media, Google and YouTube all enable you to continually analyze trends in your own business and in the local market. Pay attention to what is working, what is popular, what might need adjusting in your business and in your environment, so you can stay ahead of the curve if there is a need to pivot your business.
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