If you’re gearing up to launch a business, or a new product, or to expand into a new market – to make any big change – you need to be ready. The key to success is confidence, but your confidence needs to be well-founded, so you need to do your research and make sure you know the environment you’re launching or expanding into. If the potential market isn’t there for your new venture, then you need to know as soon as possible, so you can either reign in your expectations, or try to target different customers and assure that vital stream of revenue.
Any kind of expansion means committing resources – money, time, and your brand’s cultural currency. If the expansion falters, then you’re risking not just the money you have on the line but your brand’s reputation, which can be far harder to recoup. You can’t explain a loss to investors and ask for more reputation, you have to build it again from the ground up.
This all adds up to the vital need for research, so you can look honestly and accurately at the potential your business has for growth and success in any given market. This is perhaps even more important than having a great product or service on offer: lesser products can be elevated with the right pricing, the right marketing, the luck of harnessing a popular mood, but if everyone who’s ever going to buy what you have to offer has already bought it, you won’t sell any more. You need that potential to grow into.
One of the most important things you can do is look at where you place in a brand index – the overall picture of all the brands in your niche or market. This tells you quickly if you’ve got room to grow, or if you’re already scraping at the ceiling of your potential. It also tells you if you’re about to butt up against the leviathans of your industry. If you’re a new business, it’s not fatal to try and take some mind-share from a household name, but you do need to know that’s the challenge you’ve set yourself so you can build a strategy to suit it.
The importance of research in all this cannot be overestimated. You need the facts to back up your opinions about the space you have to grow. The facts might confirm what you want to be true, or they might reveal that reality is very different to what you’d prefer but once you know the facts you can work with them, and there’s no substitute for that.