Market Research for Entrepreneurs

Most of the time, entrepreneurs can’t afford to pay for market research.  But do you know that research firms “share” some of their research at little to no cost? One of the biggest firms holds free breakfast briefings at the largest consumer products show in the country – every year, and run similar events at many major tradeshows. A few years ago, they had conducted extensive research profiling the usage and adoption models of consumers relative to consumer technology. This was probably the biggest breakthrough in technology adoption model thinking since Crossing the Chasm. To think, everyone in attendance got a nice summary of it, for free. As attendees at these breakfast briefings, everyone was also invited (at no charge) to their west coast forum for big clients – Most of the attendees seemed to be big companies – not startups? Why? Remember, most big firms were once small firms. Take advantage of every opportunity to look and sound bigger than you are.

Other big market research firms (and industry associations) publish excerpts, provide free webcasts and otherwise provide insights that can help you in your business. If you’re writing a business plan, even being able to quote ONE statistic from a big market research firm adds credibility to your numbers – you look like you know what you’re doing and that you’re “in the network”. Remember also that smaller boutique firms specialize in market niches, sign up for their newsletters as well.

Because entrepreneurs can’t afford to buy full analyst reports, piece together forecasts from articles, press releases and summaries to lend credibility to your forecasts for investors, partners and employees.

Who are the most important research firms in your business? Are you signed up on their websites? Do you get their e-newsletters? Are you on the invite list for events and conferences? Are you prepared with your lists of influential analysts for the launch for your new product?

Yes, social media is important, but research firms continue to innovate their delivery models, making their work more affordable. Perhaps more importantly, larger and more established firms, such as channel partners, corporate partners, bankers and investors, know and respect those firms. Use their stats or show up in their reports, and you have instant cred.

A really good market research website to check out is eMarketer.com. They send out a constant stream of studies from the big research firms with graphs and tables – at little to no cost to you. Sign up for their newsletter!

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