Market Research

Market research is vital; lack of understanding of the market place is a common reason for businesses to struggle or fail. So before starting up your business, speak to as many potential customers as possible. Do not rely on the opinions of friends and family alone, as they may not be representative of the general public through being either over protective or overly enthusiastic about your idea.

Find out whether there is a demand for your product or service from independent people; where they would like to purchase it from and when and how often they are likely to make such a purchase. It is unlikely that everyone in your catchment area is a potential customer, so think carefully about what sort of people to target as your priority and research the opinions and behaviour of people fitting this profile. Why not get out and walk the ground of where you wish to establish your business, talk to people in the area, customers who are visiting existing businesses, ask them why they use them, what might be missing in the area etc.

You also need to find out about your competitors and how well the demand for your product or services is already served or provided for in your target area. This research can be done through a number of ways, e.g. street surveys, social media, google maps, business directories on line, trip advisor to name a few. You can also seek opinions of customers who use competitors, or do some mystery shopping with your potential competitors to discover their strengths and weaknesses.

If you are going to trade from a property and are reliant on passing trade, it is also very important to monitor footfall at different times of the day and note the type of people who are going past to see if the location seems suitable before committing to the property.

This page of the Government’s website – – provides further ideas and information to consider. You could also visit your local council website for links that may be useful, including sources of data on potential customers such as Neighbourhood profiles, consumer classification tools (such as Acorn and Mosaic) and many more.

Traders business groups

Before you establish a business you may want to liaise with existing businesses in the area. There are a number of traders’/business groups (including Town Teams and Business Improvement Districts) across the country. Contact details and information on their initiatives can be found on your local council website

Your business name is a powerful asset and you want to ensure you can both use it and protect it. At the research stage, check out whether or not you are infringing on anyone else’s rights to use that name. A good starting point would be to:

- Check the register of Limited Companies at Companies House to see if anyone has a limited company with that name already. See and search online to see if anyone is trading under it. If you need a supporting domain name for a website, find out if it is available on websites such as Nominet, or

- Consider commissioning a trademark search to see if you would be infringing anyone’s trademark, see You can find out more about protecting your business name at

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