Guide

Avoid common mistakes when starting a business

Common business mistakes: poor or inadequate market research

A business that understands its customers and their buying habits can: 

  • sell more effectively 
  • compete with other suppliers
  • target new customers
  • identify new opportunities

Avoid the following market research mistakes to give your business a better chance of success:

1. Lack of in-depth market research

Lack of proper market research is one of the key problems for new businesses. It's easy to get carried away with a business idea and set up a business without testing its viability.

Accurate market data will help prevent over-optimistic forecasts - see market research and market reports.

It is also important to consider what your audience or customer needs are and to use market research to test them. You should factor feedback into any products or services you are designing - see user-centred design.

2. Keeping your business idea to yourself

Failing to share your business ideas with people you trust means that you will miss out on objective feedback.

Brainstorm with colleagues to give you valuable perspective. Note any good ideas you get from brainstorming and use them when developing your business.

Ask potential customers what they think of your plans or allow them to examine a prototype. This can help you discover whether your product offers a solution to customers' problems or something new and unique that they would purchase.

For further information see research and develop ideas, new products and services.

If you want to keep your ideas confidential, consider using a non-disclosure agreement, also known as a confidentiality agreement - see non-disclosure agreements.

3. Not researching your marketplace or potential customers

If you do not complete adequate research, you are in danger of selling to the wrong people misunderstanding your marketplace. To avoid this:

  • research and use information, such as free government data or your own network of contacts
  • carry out field research to explore customers' profiles and discover buying trends
  • swap ideas with people in the same sector

For more information, see market research and market reports and understand your customers' needs.

Invest NI’s Business Information Centre provides free access to market research and company databases to help local companies develop their product or service and find new customers. 

Watch a video explaining market research and what it involves.