You are all excited to start your small Business. You have a passion for sewing and you have heaps of extra pieces that you have made that you just want to sell. Or maybe you have a full time job that you hate and cannot wait to work from home. No matter what has motivated you to start your small business, I urge you to take a moment and stop in your tracks for just a second.
When you are in the early stages of starting your small business, you probably don’t have much support from other small business owners. You probably don’t have a huge amount of knowledge of small businesses and probably don’t have a large network of other small business owners to turn to.
There is one thing that every small business should do before starting and that is research.
There is two reasons that I suggest that when you are in this start-up phase, and you start researching that I suggest you use Google. Firstly, because it is the natural place for people to Search and secondly because it is arguably the easiest place to conduct research. Now you have worked out where you will conduct the research, it is important to consider two things:
- what you should be research; and
- how to get the best search results.
The logical starting point is what to research, so let’s start there.
What to research
Whilst there are a lot of factors that will impact what you need to research, and not everyone will need to cover every step outlined below, they are good starting points, and they are must’s for those who are really fresh and do not yet have any direction for their business. Below we give some specific recommendations on what you should be researching.
What type of business to start?
If you have decided you want to start a small business, but aren’t sure what sort of small business you want to start, your first point of call will be researching what sort of small businesses will achieve what you want to achieve with a small business. If you want something that takes minimal time a week, you want to look at something that creates as much passive income as possible.
Market research is simply looking in depth at the features of, and the people and entities involved in the market that you plan on running your business from. I have broken this up into two parts for you, firstly looking at what kind of competition you have, and secondly looking at who will buy from your small business.
What kind of competition will you have?
This is an important step, because if you are going to be competing with a large business such as K-Mart you need to make sure that you have a unique edge that will entice customers to buy from you, not from large international organisations. You also need to stop and consider where you will be selling your product. If you are selling at a local markets, who else is selling at the markets? Is anyone selling the same thing as you are selling? Are you offering a service? Who else offers that service in your local area? Will you be advertising online? Who else can you find online offering the same thing as you?
Who will buy from you?
You need to establish that there are people that want what you have to offer. You need consumers. This research will depend largely on the type of business you have, but no matter what type of business you run, for it to be successful you need to ensure that you have consumers. You must ascertain if there is a need for what you are offering. If no one wants it, then there really isn’t much point offering it. In some instances, you may have something new to the market that people didn’t want or need in the past but will want and need when they see what you have to offer. It is still important to determine if there is this interest.
What sort of business structures you want
The first step with this is most likely learning what type of business structures are available. You then need to look at the pros and cons of each. Whilst most small businesses operate as sole traders, it is still an important consideration, as depending on what visions you have for your business may mean that another business structure will be more effective.
What your goals for your business are
Determining what you want to achieve early on, will help you achieve it. Whilst you may not think that research is necessary for this, it plays a fundamental role in making achievable goals for yourself. If you do not do some research prior to setting your goals, your goals may not be correctly aligned with the type of business you intend on starting, and similarly you may have a misconception as to what you want to achieve.
If you need to produce goods, or you want to sell a product, it is important that you find reliable suppliers. You need to ensure that you can buy everything you need for an affordable price and that it is a suitable quality. If you don’t have the correct suppliers, you will struggle to make an income and struggle to sell your products. Part of this research may also involve getting samples from various suppliers. You should be able to negotiate with most suppliers to get free, or discounted samples.
How to research
Now that we have looked at the main things that you need to look into before starting your own small business, the more difficult step of actually conducting research begins. The first step in the how to is working out where to conduct your research. This article suggests that you start with Google, just because it is the easiest place and will likely yield the most results. I note that this is more thorough and in depth than what most people consider research. Don’t be alarmed, you have the support system of Small Biz Shout behind you, and it is steps that anyone can take.
I have a few starting points that I recommend for research, but your research will lead you off in different directions. Follow where it takes you and explore all avenues you come across.
How to Google
Everyone knows how to Google, (just in case you don’t go to www.google.com and enter into the search field some words, then click the “google search” button) but here are some tips that will help you get the most out of the big old google. When you don’t know something, I have no doubt that you will google it. When you rock up to google and go to see what you can find, you will find is the websites that have the best search engine optimisation. You will also stumble across the companies that have the largest advertising budgets. I want to help you find more than just this, and delve a little deeper into what you can find out from google.
The first thing you need to know when using google is thinking about what to search. Using the correct key words will help you get suitable responses. Use synonyms to help vary the results. Think laterally and out of the box to help get a bigger range of results.
One example is if you are looking for help to start a small business you might search for the following:
Small Business Support
Small Business Help
How to start a small business
Small business guide
Small Business Australia
Starting a Small Business in Australia
Business Owners Help
If you are struggling with different ideas for words to google, just do a quick search for synonyms of certain words. This will give you fresh ideas for what to search for.
You may also want to include your search to reach some more academic articles by including words such as academic or peer reviewed article in your search words. Another way to reach some more academic articles is through searching on google scholar.
Google Scholar is a service that Google offers, where you can search in a separate domain just for academic articles. The easiest way to access google scholar is to enter the webpage www.scholar.google.com. Whilst I do not recommend that you use this for all of your searching, you may want to run a search in google scholar just to see what results you get. The results in google scholar are likely to be more reliable, however it is still important to find further supporting information before relying too heavily on it.
Now that you have the words that you are going to search for, what you put with the words will help you get the best results. Outlined below are some symbols that will add to your search, with some examples taken directly from Google Support.
|Symbol||When to use|
|+||Search for Google+ pages or blood types
Examples: +Chrome or AB+
|@||Find social tags
Example: nikon $400
|#||Find popular hashtags for trending topics
|–||When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes sites with that info from your results. This is useful for words with multiple meanings, like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.
Examples: jaguar speed -car or pandas -site:wikipedia.org
|“||When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Only use this if you’re looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you’ll exclude many helpful results by mistake.
Example: “imagine all the people”
|*||Add an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms. .
Example: “a * saved is a * earned”
|..||Separate numbers by two periods without spaces to see results that contain numbers in a range.
Example: camera $50..$100
Another very important thing to consider when using google is the use of Boolean Operators. Whist I use them every day (I do a large amount of research for my job) they aren’t something that has been taught in any of my education since primary school. It is just something that we are assumed to know, and yet isn’t something that my small business journey has taught me, so in the interest of supporting small businesses as much as possible I thought it would be beneficial to discuss them when discussing research. I will start off with a quick introduction as to what Boolean Operators are. Boolean Operators are the use of the words and, or & not. For example the same words can be used in the following ways business and support, business or support, business not support. Including these words will impact your results quite significantly. These operators are useful in almost all search engines that you will use and aren’t exclusive to google.
The impact that these have on your search are as outlined below.
By using the Boolean operator, and, it will decrease your search field and your search results. This means that the results will contain things that only have business and support in them. Another example, you could search for small and business. This would mean that you only get results for small business, and wouldn’t get results that look at just businesses. The word and will significantly narrow your search and is a great tool to get rid of ‘junk’ thank you don’t really want to see.
By using the word or, it means that your search is a lot broader. If you are searching for business or support, it will bring up everything resulting to both business and also to support. This may mean that you get results not at all linked to business. It will give you a wider range of results, but the results may be less relevant. One example when you may want to use this is if you are searching for something such as for products that you may want to sell. You may search bibs or dummies. This means that you will get pages that have bibs, dummies and also pages that have both.
By using the word not you are again narrowing your search results. You are eliminating over half of what otherwise would have appeared. In the example business not support, you will only get pages that have only business in them. Whilst it is unlikely that you want to search for that, one example when you may use this would be if you are wanting to search for manufacturers, but don’t want ones in China. You may search for clothing manufacturers not China for example.
You can use the Boolean operators along with switching the terms that you are using when you start your research. Read articles, read question and answer pages, read as much information as you possibly can. It is important to remember that not everything you read on the internet is reliable, so be speculative and always ensure that what you read is supported by something out.
If you have any questions in relation to research, or need any assistance, please feel free to get in touch.
Whilst the research stage may seem boring, it is crucial to the success of your business in the start-up phase. It will take time, but save you loads of money by hopefully steering you away from expensive lessons that you could have learnt in the research phase.
Thank you so much,
CJ – Small Biz Shout
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
The post Google Research – The first step every small business should take. A How to Guide appeared first on Small Biz Shout.