Small business need market research for success, too

It's not always the big dogs that need help with research for its marketing efforts.

Gladwell's all for running with that pack, but sometimes the puppies need a boost too.

When someone launches a business from scratch, they typically focus on their own areas of expertise and have to catchup on the skills that are needed in order to make the business grow and thrive. These are often areas like accounting, human resouces and, yes, marketing. Marketing research - getting to know as much information as possible about customers, marketplaces and the reception of new products - can be a make-or-break asset for a startup. How does a new business get off the ground if it has not strategy for reaching its audience?

Forbes author Shawn O'Connor lists market research as one of the three most important steps a new business can take when first starting out, since it allows brands an opportunity to answer a lot of critcial questions:"The potential market for your products or services can be defined as the pool of consumers or businesses who would consider purchasing them. In other words, they have a need that your business might help them address. It is key to clearly define your market before endeavoring to conduct research. For example, if want to open an athletic store, you need to decide if you will cater to runners, swimmers, golfers, tennis players or all of the above as well as if you will focus just on one segment like footwear or broaden to include apparel, equipment and more. Once you define the scope of your potential business and the corresponding potential market for your products and services, you need to determine why a consumer or business would purchase from you rather than a competitor. Do you offer the lowest price? Unparalleled service? A unique product mix not available elsewhere? Before investing significant time and money in actually starting your business you need to find your niche and determine your clients’ willingness to pay for your offering."

At, market researcher Eric Brandenburg outlines how research drives winning products which will eventually spur investment, which nets bottom line success: "Unbiased information obtained from primary market research can allow an entrepreneur to build a product and service which will meet client’s needs. When a product or service can satisfy a need or a want in the target market the business plan pitch becomes far more valid and reliable; one factor that will attract investors time and time again."