Success in small business is very much dependent on conducting industry research
. Industry research is not a one-time deal; it is something that needs to be ongoing if you are to succeed and develop a long-lived, sustainable and profitable business.
Be An Expert Today And Tomorrow
Even if you are an expert in your field today, you will not remain an industry expert if you do not make time for regular, ongoing industry research and incorporate it into your business plan. In order to see to the needs of your client-base you need to be ahead of them as far as industry trends are concerned; you need to be able to deliver the information, services, and goods that they want, and be ready with it before they know that they want it. That level of deliverance is what will keep you ahead as a 'go-to' resource, and it is what will keep old clients returning and new ones coming to you.
It is not enough to learn the ins and outs of your industry in the beginning and then assume you know enough. To stay in business and to stay competitive you have to keep up with industry
trends and changes. You have to immerse yourself in the information and knowledge of your field so that you will be a timely and accurate resource that people can rely on.
Conducting Ongoing Industry Research
While that may sound like an overwhelming responsibility, conducting ongoing industry research is easier than you think. One of the best ways to stay up and be an expert is to join industry relevant groups and associations. Such groups basically act as information clearinghouses for the specified industry, and make it their mission to get the word out to their members to keep them ahead of the curve.
In addition, there are a number of resources both inside and outside the industry that will provide ongoing industry research. These include:
-Business and relevant sections of local and regional newspapers
-Newsletters from industry professionals and resources (online and off
-Online industry eZines
-Industry and trade magazines
Do not discount your competition as an information resource, either. Stop in at their businesses and websites, network and share resources, and see what is and is not working for others. Learn not only how you can compete by being the same, but also how you can differentiate and further fulfill industry
It's also a good idea to dedicate some time to reading and exposing yourself to the trends and changes of your industry, listening to what analysts know is the biggest step in the right direction for conducting industry research. Get in touch with your industry and with your clientele by knowing what is always on in your field.