Market research is about identifying potential customers and understanding what may prompt them to buy. It is also necessary to understand the competition: those who are trading in similar goods or services.

It is also about understanding trends and not making assumptions. One could make the assumption that with more cars on the road year-by-year that opening a petrol station must be a good idea; observation shows that more petrol stations are closing than opening — so never assume, always do the research.

However it is also an exercise in what the smaller business wants to do, its skills, its ethos, its personality.

In 2016, small businesses accounted for 99.3% of private sector businesses and 99.9% were small or medium sized. 76% of 5.4m private businesses “employ” only the owner.

Businesses are many and varied. The research questions asked and how they are asked, will necessarily vary from business to business, area to area and trade to trade. This topic seeks to give an overview to enable individual tailored research to be undertaken.

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