Businesses are unique entities in that they can operate intuitively and through their leaders’ gut instinct, and they can also operate with careful planning. As with anything in life, the real answer is somewhere in-between. Being inspired is a great way to set yourself apart and can lead you down the right path, but at the same time, making a significant change for your business demands thought and careful consideration before taking the leap.
A good way to think about these two approaches is that inspiration is great for your business’s creative aspects and even for short-term decisions. Research, however, must dictate long-term direction and innovation.
Types of Research
There are four main types of research that will benefit your business. While trial and error is always a useful tool for any business owner, having a good idea of where to start is essential. As a minimum, you will want to get your idea on the board, rather than missing the mark entirely. Tweaking an idea from something is easier than taking a stab in the dark. Therefore, think of research as the guiding light towards your business’ future success.
Demographic or Market Research
Demographic, also known as market research, is an essential tool. You need to know who your customers are, what they value, their struggles, what language they use, how much money they want to spend on a product or service like the one you offer, and more. Knowing who you are selling to and who will most likely buy your product or service can help you improve your marketing, customer service, and guide you towards offering a suitable price point.
Product or Service Research
Product or service research is essential for expanding your stock or list of offerings. You will want to know that what you offer will be welcomed by your existing customer base, sure, but when you expand your offerings, it is also with the intention of bringing in new customers that will then become loyal to your business too.
Product research is a must to help develop the right product that will hit your customers. Everything from shape to material to even color will impact, so research will need to be done with a peer-review process.
Services are a bit easier to decide on, yes, but they actually need more planning than a new product line. For example, a plumbing supply store can naturally expand its services to fittings. If you don’t have a qualified plumber on staff, however, this serves as a logistical issue you will need to overcome.
You not only need people who can provide the service; you need to work through what that service exactly entails. Without careful consideration, it could cost you more to offer the service than what you bring in.
If you don’t keep an eye on the industry as a whole, you run the risk of being made redundant to your customers and especially the global community. Stay up to date with what is going on, the trends that businesses are seeing, and more. This might actually be the easiest type of research, as you can simply invest in the latest industry report and read through it to keep up to date and guide your own company accordingly.
The last type of research is innovation. It is the hardest type to do, but also essential. How can you keep your business relevant, popular, and loved? Sometimes you may need to completely redesign your business model. Netflix started out as a mail-service for DVDs and then ended up starting a massive trend in on-demand services that completely changed the very face of entertainment forever.
Sometimes it’s just one great idea; other times, you need to dig deep to understand your company and the directions it should take.
How to Research
Some research methods are easy because you can rely on already published reports. In other cases, you will need to invest in your own research so that you get relevant information and actionable steps.
Invest in Research Organizations
All businesses dedicate themselves to creating in-depth research pieces that can be accessed for a premium or even for free. It depends on whether they were paid to create the research project or earn their revenue by selling their reports.
This can be a great option and should always be used to benefit from in-depth research in areas that might not relate directly to your business. An industry report, for example, will have many great suggestions and bits of information that you can use, but it will not have been created with your specific business in mind.
For that hyper-specific research, you will need to invest in it yourself. You can do this by hiring a research company yourself, yes, but it is almost always better to develop the skills and the experience to do it yourself.
Become an Expert on Your Own Terms
If you are the CEO or business owner, then it is your vision that will direct the company forward. Even if someone who works for you comes up with a great idea, you have the final say at the end of the day.
No one thinks twice when it comes to an MBA for the success of their career or for their business. Yet, not many look into the benefits of going one step further and earning a Doctor of Business Administration. Unlike an MBA, you direct what content you focus on. You are taught how to research and put together really innovative, relevant reports for your business, yes. You are also given a team of experts in their fields to help guide you through your own personal research project.
However, at the end of the day, you work to solve an issue your business has with your own research and efforts. You will become a doctor, set yourself as an industry leader, and know the exact steps you need to keep benefitting your business through expert research.