Start Me Up Series


Researching your business could make the difference between make or break.  It enables you to test your product or services and establish if it is a viable idea and if it will sell.

Those that do not assess their long-term market potential and overall competitive stance may risk early closure or failure

(Barclays Bank)

Market research will form the core of your business plan and will determine if there is a market for your product or service.  If your research establishes that your business idea will not be successful don’t think that you have failed – think of the money you have saved by not starting that particular business or even better; refine your idea based on the results of your research.  David Robinson, of Robinson Services found market research to be really useful when testing the market.   David centred his market research on customers and competitors.  He started his business after noticing “the pitfalls of other companies and found a niche in the market…to provide a quality service …once it was successful then concentrate on building it”.

Tips on Customers

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are your customers? E.g. age, gender, location
  • What do they want?
  • What price will they pay?
  • Do they presently buy the product/service from a competitor? Why?

Remember always be on the look out for potential customers


Tips on Competitors

There are two types of competitors.  There are those who offer the exact same product/service as you – this is a DIRECT competitor and there are INDIRECT competitors – those who offer a similar product/service to you.

  • Try their products/services
  • Identify what their strengths and weaknesses are
  • Can you improve on this
  • Look at what makes your product/service different or better

David Robinson stresses that “market research is a continuous process that it is very important to keep up with market changes in order to keep ahead”.


David’s Top Tips

* Know your customer and their expectations

* Under promise and over deliver

* Adapt to market changes


Sources of Information for Market Research

  • Antrim Enterprise
  • Library
  • InvestNI library
  • Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)
  • Internet Searches
  • Various market reports such as Cobra, KeyNote and Mintel
  • Adverts in local newspapers or shop windows
  • Walking down the street
  • Fliers and leaflets in your area
  • Existing or potential customers
  • Friends

If you are interested in starting a business, but unsure where to begin with your market research, get in touch with one of the business support team to discuss how to turn an idea into a reality: or

028 9446 7774

Jennifer McWilliams
Written By
Jennifer McWilliams

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