Research! Research! Research!
When starting a new business or expanding into a new area, you must ensure you know the market place extremely well. The best way to do this is by RESEARCHING.
Just because you have a fabulous product or service, your friends and family think its amazing, does not necessarily translate to a live market place where people are paying for your goods and/or service. By carrying out good research, you will be able to not only validify your product or service as being of value, but you will also be able to identify areas for improvement or adjustment that can add more value.
How you do research is dependent upon your business idea. Some research can be done on a computer, certainly a good starting point, finding out who offers the same or similar products and services, what you like and don’t like, what you can add to make you standard out etc! Another way of carrying out research is to go and physically carry it out. For example, if you are looking to set up a café. Go sit in several other café’s in the area and surrounding areas to observe the type of cliental using the café, what they purchase (is it just drinks, snacks, hot/cold food or a mix of all). Also note the number of people, along with the footfall outside that does not come in. This will give you some basis on the likely average number of people that would use your café and how much spend each will make. You will be able to understand what types of refreshments are most popular and what did not get ordered from the menu. Can you offer a similar menu with some added value to entice people into your café?
You could take this a step further and ask people passing the building you are considering if they would use a café in that location if it offered refreshments they want. Ask them what types of refreshments they might like. I know this is a little scary but starting your own business is scary and you have to be able to put yourself in a number of role to start with – some are more natural than other!
RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH! – the better the foundations for your business the more likely you will succeed.