With any kind of startup, including tech startups, market research is incredibly valuable and important.
Market research first and foremost is used to help startups determine whether or not they’re business idea is a valuable one. You may think you have a great idea, but once you start market research, you may find yourself making changes to your original concept because of something you discover that already exists in the market.
Market research is also useful to help you properly grow your business, and remain ahead of the competition.
Finally, if you are creating a startup with the intention of merging or selling it, you’ll need market research to include in your business plan. According to Firmex in their report on deal-making in 2016, it was a good year for startups wanting to sell, so it’s important to make sure you have the proper market research in place if an opportunity arises.
The following are some critical tips for conducting market research if you’re a startup.
Use What’s Available to You
When you’re a startup, whether you’re conducting research to develop your business plan or you’re doing it for marketing purposes, you probably don’t have a lot of funds available to you.
The good news is, there are excellent research opportunities available at no charge.
You can, of course, use online search tools like Google, but the U.S. Census Bureau also offers excellent information that can be used in terms of market research as well.
Divide Research Into Primary and Secondary Segments
Good market research isn’t just about looking at secondary sources, which would include online search results, industry research, and information from the U.S. Census Bureau. It also includes primary research.
Primary research is going to give you information straight from the mouth of would-be customers.
You can conduct in-person interviews and surveys, but you can also do much of this online, which works particularly well in the tech industry. Consider holding online focus groups through Google Hangouts, or developing social media conversations.
These are low-cost ways for startups with tiny budgets to conduct what was once challenging and expensive primary research.
If you do want to conduct more traditional in-person primary market research, visit a local school or college. You’ll find plenty of students willing to participate in research, particularly if it pertains to cutting edge new technology, free of charge.
Use Google Trends
Another excellent, free and highly accessible tool you can use for startup market research is Google Trends.
You can put your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your industry or market in a way that’s incredibly simple.
You can also use Google Correlate, which lets you find search patterns that relate to trends happening in the real world.
Do Market Research Before Investing Time and Money
As a final note to wrap up this list of startup market research tips, don’t wait until you’ve already invested a lot of time or money into your business to do market research. Market research needs to be done at the very beginning because this will help you make the necessary adjustments to your product or service, and can help you avoid making costly mistakes.