Guide to Starting and Operating a Small Business | 2018 Guide to Starting and Operating a Small Business - Page 8

The best source of market research information is still the library. Many have business librarians and/or space dedicated to business reference materials. How and where to do research (secondary): Local Library. The best source of market research information is still the library. Many have business librarians and/or space dedicated to business reference materials. Look for information in sources and references related to your particular type of business, such as periodicals, trade journals, newspapers, industry association and other reference books. Some of the books in which you might find information include: • Directory of Trade Associations • Trade Journals and Industry Publications • Encyclopedia of American Industries • Encyclopedia of Global Industries • Economic Census, i.e., Census of Retail Trade, Census of Wholesale Trade, or Census of Selected Services • Other governmental statistic sources published by federal, state, and local agencies • RMA (Risk Management Association) Annual Statement Studies Many libraries also have subscriptions to online market research tools that your librarian will be able to access for/with you. Or the librarian can assist you in how to locate information through the Michigan Electronic Library at www.mel.org, which provides all Michigan residents with free access to online research tools, full-text articles, books, and more. • From the home page, select the “Business” button to see a long list of research to dos and business information resources such as data generators “Business Decision” and “Demographics Now: Business and People” as well as the “Encyclopedia of American Industries.” • These research resources are available to you 24/7. It may take a little effort for you to learn how to use them on your own but they will be very valuable for periodically checking on marketplace conditions as well as for developing target marketing campaigns. Internet. To get the most out of internet searches and make the best use of your time, it is important to define your search terms/strings as precisely as possible. The following are suggestions for more effective and efficient internet searches: • Make a list of all the keywords and strings of keywords associated with your type of business. • As you search, keep track of which key words or strings of key words you used so you don’t end up duplicating the search at a later time. • Save time by visually scanning the search results to see if a result site contains potentially significant information. If it does, print out the materials for later reading and highlighting of relevant facts and the URL to be able to cite the source in your business plan. • Valuable websites for checking on competitors: − www.mel.org (DemographicsNow; Business Decision) − www.thomasnet.com − www.hoovers.com Talk to people in the industry. Gain some valuable insights on opportunities and challenges by speaking to people who know it from the inside. Other forms of research (primary): Surveys. Build and conduct your own survey or focus group to gather information from businesses or persons who might be potential customers. 6