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My new series of blogs aims to provide you with all the information you need to get on the right path to self-employment.  Starting a business can be like climbing a mountain, it may look daunting from the bottom but focus on one step at a time and you’ll be at the top in no time.

 Know Thy Market, by Shirley Hermiston

Somewhere between the idea in your head and your hand written scribbles there’s a process you need to carry out which will essentially determine whether your business will be a success or failure.

You’ve had that epiphany moment, the light bulb is flashing above your head and it’s easy to go in all guns blazing. But you have to make sure that your business idea is actually viable and to do that you must answer your questions honestly.

Is there a market for it? Many great ideas have been scuppered by a lack of research which is why this stage should never be overlooked. Flaws you find in your grand plan at the start of your journey are much easier to correct than discovering them further down the line.

There is free market data available, I recommend looking at the Office for National Statistics, you can find information on people’s spending habits, how prices change and demographics to name just a few.

Also the British Library Business and IP Centre also offer a lot of useful information worth checking out.

Of course I do believe that there is no substitute for actually talking to people so visit your local high street and interview potential customers, be polite and keep it brief.

Same can be said for social media and the web. The internet is one of the best ways to work out potential demand for your product or business and ask friends and family too, no-one gives honest feedback quite like those who know and care for you.

Once you are happy with the data collected it’s time to analyse. Don’t worry if the results weren’t quite what you expected or wanted, adapting plays a big part of running a business and remember that opinions change so it is worth repeating your research at various stages in your business start up and beyond. 

We also have a start up team offering free advice, their direct number is 01915166149 or you can contact them via the website www.ne-bic.co.uk/starting-your-business