What Do You Need?
Researching the Market
It has been proven that starting a business online is not necessarily about the product you offer or the team you have. Innovative services, expert-run businesses, and other strong ideas have all failed due to one simple fact: market demand.
If the potential customer does not want your new product or service, it does not matter how amazing it is, the business will not succeed. It is simple supply and demand theory. For this reason, before starting your online business, researching the market must always be your first step in your entrepreneurial process.
Understanding whether there is a need for your product is a basic responsibility you have as an entrepreneur. You may want to create the next vlog channel on coal trains or start shipping frog hats through a Shopify site, but without a concrete need, your idea is just that, an idea. “Need” frames your business idea into a reality, by showing you that, indeed, people are interested or would use something you have to offer.
You can test need in a variety of ways, including: researching online, building surveys, asking friends, posting on social media groups, and personally messaging experts in the field. The more research you do that points to a need for your product, the more likely you can cultivate your business to successfully meet that need.
As part of the research process, it is important to carefully survey both existing and potential competition. You may have a great idea to start a digital picture sharing service that allows people to post their travels and accomplishments.
After surveying your friends you see a need for it, until your research shows that Instagram already did it, is more established, and is considered the top company doing it. So, understanding your competitors is key in order to not waste any valuable time or assets.
Now, competition does not mean your idea should not be attempted, after all business means competition. Pepsi competes with Coca-Cola and Nike with Adidas. That being said, if competition does exist you need to know, so that you can find out 1) what the competition is doing 2) how they are doing it, and then, 3) refine your plan to do it better.
Need + Competitors = Growth
If Amazon had not invented an efficient book delivery service which no other competitor had, it would never have grown into the digital marketplace it is today. Once you understand need and competition in your business’ online niche, you streamline your growth potential, so that you funnel your entrepreneurial efforts into a focused direction. Once you do that, your business will truly fulfill the market’s need.