When you’re running a business, or thinking about starting one, the most important thing you can learn about is your market – the conditions into which you’re going to be launching.
Today, we’re taking a look at what makes up a market, how you can learn about yours, and the most important way to apply those learning to your business.
What’s in a Market
There are three main components that make up your market – your customers, your competitors and your suppliers. The interactions of these three parts, and the factors acting on them, create your opportunities, your risks and your limitations, so it’s important to be aware of them,
Your competition can be a big risk to your business, but also a huge resource. There are plenty of other businesses out there looking for a cut of the customers that sustain you, and getting some up to date competitor intelligence can tell you who they are, what they’re doing and how much you need to worry about them.
You don’t need to totally dominate a market to survive – in most cases, finding and projecting a USP that’s distinct enough from your closest competitors will give you the space to stand out and cultivate your own network of customers. You can also use the competition as a vital resource – look at what the biggest, most well resourced of your competitors are doing and you may be able to benefit from their expensive research yourself!
Working with a business strategy consultancy can help here, as you were create plans for different scenarios depending on what your competitors might do.
Your customers may be the most important part of your market. You need to understand who they are, what they want and factors and influences move them to spend their money. Market research is an important part of understanding your customers, and it’s well worth spending money on a professional market research firm. They have the scope to survey a full cross section of potential customers and the expertise to turn the pure data into insights you can action to make your business more appealing to specific customer profiles.
It’s also worth understanding the financial factors acting on your customers.At the moment, raised costs – and the regular news updates about the ‘cost of living crisis’ – are squeezing people’s disposable income and their willingness to spend that money. You need to adapt your offer to the prevailing conditions affecting your customers: in this case, emphasising your value may be a good way to get ahead of the times we live in.
The logistics of your business: raw materials, products and delivery make up the third segment of your understanding of your market. Optimising your supply is important – a good way for you to tackle your own cost of living crisis!
Operations consultants specialise in looking at this side of your business and ensuring you’re making the best decisions you can.