Last week I attended a talk at the British Library about Online Business Databases. The Business & IP Centre in the British Library is a place where entrepreneurs can come and get support for their business idea.
We were given advice on how to seek out all the tools we need to build our own business: advice and funding, market research, company data, business news and journals, etc. There are a number of different websites that are sources of information on the market such as COBRA or KOMPASS. We were introduced to the concept of Lean Startup, which is a methodology for developing businesses that helps entrepreneurs save money developing new products and services that customer’s won’t want by looking at customer feedback in the early stages of the development process. There are two ways to go about doing that research: field research and desk research. Desk research is looking at online business databases, sales data, trends and forecasts, trade journals… Field research is all about going out and talking to potential customers. An entrepreneur can also use social media as a way of observing and conducting experiments on customers. What is important when talking to customers is getting them to talk about their past experiences.
‘Customers don’t always know what they want but they can’t hide what they need’ Cindy Alvarez
Rather than trying to predict customer behaviours, it is better to focus on their past behaviour, which they are likely to repeat.
There are also ways to predict whether customers will pre-oder or buy an early version of your product, like crowdfunding or newsletters. You could also set up a widget on your website whilst developing your product that counts how many people clicked on your landing page.
Ultimately, when setting up your business you are trying to determine a number of things: who is going to help me, what am I going to be selling, how much am I going to be selling it for, are there people whose lives can be improved by what I do, how do I reach them, how much will it cost me, how to I manage the money I earn?
COBRA (2017). Available at: https://www.cobwebinfo.com/services/cobra/. (Accessed: 21/02/17)
KOMPASS (2017). Available at: http://www.kompass.com/selectcountry/. (Accessed: 21/02/17)