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Researching Your Market for an Online Business

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#231185″]Step Five – Researching Your Market[/typography]

Researching your market to this point has been more general, now it is time to get down to the specifics. Start digging – and dig deep.

You can find out what your target client most urgently wants by utilizing a number of research tactics.

At the top of the list:  ASKING!

You can do this in a number of ways.  Let’s start with online…

1.  Ask forum members directly, if the forums you belong to relate to your niche.  Find other forums for that topic, and join.  Read past posts to check for:

  • Feedback
  • Complaints
  • Wishes
  • Questions

These will provide important clues – if you know how to listen.

2.  Use social media to ask friends and followers who are also in your target group what they want, need and miss.  Ask them any question related to your business – and ask them to share the question with friends.

TIP:  Include a photo with your question and include your keyword in its description – it will make sure Facebook’s Edge Rank algorithm shares your post with more of your targeted followers.

Tweet the questions and ask for responses.

Share it on your blog, and ask for comments or answers through all social media.

3.  Create a poll using a Facebook app – Edge Rank likes polls too.
4,  Create surveys using sites such as Survey Monkey, and ask people to visit your survey on social networks and in any niche-related forum you belong to.
5.  Check online job directories and see what sorts of jobs are being posted.

Sites such as Elance and oDesk can also provide competition information – how many jobs they have listed  in their directory and the ratings.

Reading the profiles can help you determine what to include – and what not to include – in your own job description!  You can also see data such as:

  • What are your competitors’ rates?
  • How many hours they have listed
  • What are the average ratings?
  • What proportion of their job hours comes from repeat customers
  • What keywords seem to get them in the directory’s top results

Also check the services that are being sought out through online job markets such as Snagajob and Workopolis

6.    Find your competitors, big and small by checking out . . .

  • The complaints being posted about their product(s) or services.
  • What their customers are saying about the products.
  • What is missing – what their customers are asking for.
  • What the competitors are not doing or supplying…gaps (needs/wants) that you can fill.

Study the good… and bad. Become familiar with your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. What could you do better? If you can not surpass them, what can you do that would make it easier or more satisfying for people to shop with you?

Use sites such as Alexa and Quantcast to study their customer demographics – as well as other sites and businesses these potential  customers visit.

Sample research Alexa/Quantcast

Alexa in particular will also show you high impact search queries.

high impack search queries The more research you do, the clearer the viability of your idea will become.  At this point an accurate picture should be starting to take shape. In fact, you may have already disqualified your original idea and focused on a more promising variation.

The next step is to ask (and answer) more questions. Based on the research you have done and additional research if necessary, complete the worksheet below. It will help you dig deeper into your business idea.

Don’t worry if you have trouble providing definitive answers to all the questions. Fill out the sheet as completely as possible – you can always rework it later. The process is the important thing. It will fine-tune your focus on the business and help you assemble the necessary components for success. When you are finished, you will have a better idea of whether or not you will be able to move forward successfully.  

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#231185″]WORKSHEET[/typography]

What is my Business Idea and how much time can I realistically commit to it?What size market share can I expect or aim for?
Who are my competitors?What one big advantage or benefit does my business have that theirs lacks?
How big is my market?How much can I realistically charge?
What do I want to get out of this?  What realistic expectations?


[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#231185″]Your New Business Should Be More than Just a Job[/typography]

Always look at your new business as a unique idea – a great opportunity that you are excited about. DO NOT look at it as an online “job” – think in terms of creating your total online economy!

You have probably had a traditional job at some point in your professional life where someone paid you to perform a task (or tasks) and you were limited by the structure your boss and company set up for you.  A true entrepreneur has no such restrictions and quickly learns how to maximize every money-making opportunity that comes along, creating not just one narrow stream of income, but multiple streams.

We will talk more about this concept in the next section, “Planning Your Ideal Business.”

But now it is time to complete the Section 1 Assignment and get started with all the techniques we have discussed: brainstorming, researching, and finding your unique business idea.

Want all of the information? Begin at the beginning: Building an Online Business.

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