Karen Fischer

Market Research Prior to Starting a Business Can Save Your Money and Frustration

January 21, 2015

Too many people have what they believe is a great business idea and then go off and start a business without having performed the upfront research to understand if there is a market for their product or service.  Once one determines whether there is a market, there needs to be due diligence performed to understand if the idea is something that is in demand or whether this is a product/service that will require a lot of marketing to sell.  One needs to know their competition in the market in which the product or service is being sold and determine how this could affect your sales. There needs to be an understanding of how potential customers are dealing with the problem that your potential product or service solves today.  Are there other alternatives to solve the problem that are easy to implement without your product or service?

 You need to know how consumers or businesses will buy type of product or service and whether the margin you make will allow you to break even.  One must also identify what costs they will have to start their business.  These are just a few of the items that you think that most entrepreneurs know before they start and invest their money and others in starting a business.  The truth is, more than not, many people start the business first and find out the answers on the backend which can become a costly approach.

We are currently doing work for a client now who is looking to start a business in Ontario in the next year.  He has started researching which businesses have the highest growth potential and he wants to use this research to uncover the potential market, competition, best geographies, and the cost to set up the business.  When this level of due diligence is done, there is a greater chance of success for the business.
Many start a business without any level of due diligence of whether they can actually make money at selling the products and services they want to sell.  It isn’t to say that once the business is set up, there are ways to look at structuring the business to turn it around, but if you are not cash flow positive, this is going to be a very costly mistake. In fact; most businesses die from poor cash management – not from a lack of orders.

You need to understand the business and environment you are going to get into. You can have the best idea in the world and not make a dime, if you have not done your homework up front.  Sometimes a business might invest in a feasibility study to be done which is a good way to test if your business is worth pursuing.  In too many cases, the business is already underway and is almost too late to get the benefit of the insight.  Example:  a manufacturer that opens a business in Canada because the product is popular overseas and finds out there is a saturated market for that particular type product.  Once you have paid for office space, sales people, warehousing, marketing, and other expenses and then you uncover this issue; it is going to be a costly mistake to try to turn this around and change your business model.  You want to uncover this before you spend money on major expenses. 

Below is a list of items at minimum that you will want to uncover before you lay out an investment in a new business:

  • Is there a potential market for what you plan to sell and where you plan to sell it (geography)?

  • What is the exact problem are you going to solve and what is the current cost of that problem?

  • How is your solution going to make the customer better off than the alternatives that currently exist? 

  • Are there any barriers to entry; such as licensing, regulations, controls?

  • How large is that market and is it large enough if you penetrate it to make enough money short and long term?

  • Is there competition for what you plan to sell and is there enough market left for to make money?

  • Is what you are selling have a unique value proposition from the completion?

  • What are the different channels to market for your product and what are the costs associated with each?

  • What are the expenses for opening up this type of business and what revenue / margin do you have to make to sustain the business?

  • How do plan to market the product or service?

If you can answer and have the research at minimum for these questions before you invest in the idea for a business, it can end up costing you less money and decrease stress and frustration versus starting and figuring this out after the fact.

How Tired Are You Of the LinkedIn Roller Coaster Changes Ride ?

December 8, 2014

If you are an avid user of LinkedIn and utilize many of the functions, do you find yourself being frustrated by the constant changes that they implement? Do you then spend way too much time trying to figure out what is going on and what changes affect your profile or your business page now?

If you do you are not alone. On the one hand I truly love LinkedIn; as it is truly the best platform when it comes to a true B2B social networking. The but is- as someone who pays for the Premium service, I...
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A True Entrepreneur - A Smart Way to Start a Business

November 2, 2014

We very rarely work with start-up businesses as 9 times out of 10 they are usually calling to get “free advice” and are not really serious about taking the risk and investing the time and cash needed in their business. Then there is that 1 out of 10 that exudes the term – A True Entrepreneur. That term does not even begin to describe Janet Sirko, of Ashbro Inc., who is on track to be a true Canadian entrepreneur success story. In addition to this story being about Janet, it is about bui...

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5 Tips For Getting The Most Out of Your Business Social Media

September 18, 2014

I have a client who works with a group of small businesses as their client. While working with them on their own social media, I uncovered that most of their clients will not realize the benefit of social media in their business.This is primarily due to how the sites are set up and how they are actually using them today.This is not an uncommon phenomena, as many businesses  know they need to use social media, but have never been taught what needs to be done, or  have just not had the time to ...
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Business Productivity Measures Made Simple

July 29, 2014

Ever wonder how productive your organization is?

We have consulted with many businesses and found that on the average, businesses are less than 50% productive. This usually comes as a surprise to the business owner. After the surprise is digested, the usual follow up question is: How did you come up with that number. Here’s how I did it.

  1. Determine how billing for revenues works. If it’s by the hour or quoted by the job, ask, how is the price worked out for the work being provided and how ma...

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LinkedIn - The Value of Their Post Blog Feature

July 26, 2014

Blown away is putting it mildly of how I felt this morning after posting my first post on the New LinkedIn Feature Blog Post feature. I  had noticed this feature was available a few months back as I watched my peers  and connections using it. I soon  began wondering why  as a  paying customer with a Premium Account why those that are paying nothing are receiving valuable features before those of us that pay. I was especially tickled at the young woman on their support desk's reply that as a P...
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Nurturing the Sale Funnel Using Social Media

July 22, 2014
About the Guest Contributor

Russel Cooke is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) expert and journalist living in Louisville, KY. His work often explores globalization, business relations, software development, and social media. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, spending his time with girlfriend, and fretting about hockey.

Since its invention, social media has slowly but surely infiltrated the lives of all its users. For a medium meant to connect people together over a site-specific interf...

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Finding The Hidden Costs of Choosing a Manufacturer Outside of Canada

July 6, 2014

I spent time with a client this week and a local manufacturer that is producing their new product.  The reason for the meeting was to understand all of the costs to help the client figure out how to price the product to market.  As we sat there talking about different scenarios with the manufacturer, I started asking myself why we have become brainwashed to automatically think about shipping our work overseas for a better price. This is definitely true if we watch the Dragon’s Den because t...

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Have You Truly Invested In Your Business from the Start

June 12, 2014

When many small business owners start their business, one of the first things that they usually do is look for financing for their business.  When one applies loan, the lender will want to understand a breakdown of how you will use the money.  In most cases the owner is thinking about the capital equipment they need, a mortgage or lease, as well as the inventory for the first month of their business.  In many cases, they completely forget about including funding to cover marketing and genera...

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So You Thought The New Anti-Spam Legislation Was Going to Stop Spam

May 14, 2014

Do you find yourself attending a network event and get home to find that you are now on everyone's distribution list and are being spammed or get emails daily from SEO companies in India?  If you believed the new Canada anti-spam legislation was going to save you, you are mistaken. The new legislation as defined, will require each business owner  to hire their own lawyer to explain all the caveats to them as well as additional people in order to track every email they send to ensure complianc...

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Our Canada small business blog provides you with articles and small business advice across different areas of your business and in support of our small business consulting and small business coaching practice. Our business focus is on providing small business content and advice to small businesses in the Canadian market. Our only focus is on Canadian small businesses or businesses outside of Canada who want to do business and provide new jobs to Canadians, but welcome visitors from outside of Canada in hopes that the advice we provide can help them as well. Visit us often, or subscribe to our small business blog Canada, as we will continue providing small business advice, small business tips , and techniques on topics of interest for your small Canadian business, whether you are a start-up or a mature small business. We would also be interested in hearing from you on small business topics of interest, or hearing questions that you might have in areas of your business.
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