This can be done by considering the following questions first:
- Is the market saturated?
- Does your area really need the services you are offering?
- What is the competition offering?
- What do they do well?
- What’s unique about them?
- Can you reach your target audience?
Once you are sure of your business idea, you need information about your market, which can be obtained from:
Trade information – visiting trade shows or by accessing print or online publications.
Demographic and economic data – information such as age range, income, number of businesses in a geographic area and total sales in your category. These types of information can be accessed by visiting government portals such as http://www.statsa.gov.za/ or www.thedti.gov.za.
Business groups – the local chamber of commerce will be able to find the information you need. You can also consult a Small Business Development Centre – which assists small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Local Competitors: If you are thinking of starting a local business, look at the competition in the area or visit their website. You can also look for businesses that are for sale, contact the brokers for information like why they are selling and what their financials are like. Buying that business may be an option for you.
National Competitors: Do an online search of businesses in your industry and evaluate what they offer to help fine-tune your idea.
Potential Customers: Conduct focus groups with potential clients and run your ideas past them.
Doing your homework now, will help you make the most out of any opportunities that may come your way.
Originally published on the SME Toolkit South Africa website.