Conducting research is one of the fundamental principles of good business, no matter if you’re entering into a partnership or testing the market for similar brands. A unique selling point is as important as proving there is demand for your product, particularly considering the high-risk nature of start-up companies. There is scarcely a better way to gain a competitive advantage than to investigate the market you are entering into.
An important area to focus is analyzing a company’s successes and where its’ strategy has fallen down including the more costly mistakes. This not only means researching a company’s accounting history but any dealings with other partners in the past like legal cases, ratings and credit scores.
There are a number of courses of action you can take. In terms of secondary research, many resources will enable you to get a picture of the competition, such as business periodicals and newspapers. This may give you insight into a particular competitor’s current status and their history through reasonably impartial comment and analysis. Finding and aggregating these sources can take a lot of time and money, however.
Undertaking research by talking to customers and other businesses about their opinion of a certain company is the most direct approach, but this is not always possible for foreign businesses or subsidiaries. Credit histories and other information can be discovered by credit services which charge you a regular fee to monitor a company’s financial profile. Some really useful paid and free tools you can use to investigate a company’s financial history is Edgar or Bizminer. If you happen to be UK based than Duedil has a database of companies providing access for up to 20 years of financial history and credit scores. Furthermore, you can search for particular documents filed against a company’s name and check their background for things like insolvency. There are extra options which allow you to download things like mortgage details and past reports for free.
A company’s public face is a good litmus test as well, so check Google, web forums, relevant local press and networking sites like LinkedIn to verify how the company is received. Government statistics on your field of industry can be helpful along with journals and podcasts from universities. Business schools are constantly updating their research and allow free access to information for start-ups online as well.
Grabbing an a competitive edge is a good deal easier if you’re well-informed. The more successful your rival, the more essential it is for to you learn why.