Not every business idea turns into something viable, which is why the process of determining that viability is so important.
Many startup owners don’t have the capital to throw around testing ideas to take to market. That’s where Google – and other search engines – come in handy.
You can conduct an entire marketing research plan online and determine ahead of time whether you are sitting on a gold mine or a dud.
Of course, research does not make a good company. You need to also be prepared to execute on what you learn in a proficient and efficient manner, learning as you go and pivoting where you need to.
Here is how you can use search engines to start and grow your business.
4 Smart Ways to Use Search Engines to Launch Your Business
1. Doing your homework
Let’s say you are thinking about starting a cannabis dispensary in your hometown.
Part of your homework or market research is going to determine the best ways to predict fit and profit in your hometown.
In addition to putting boots on the ground, search engines such as Google can help you determine what other cities are doing in this industry. It is the most obvious place to start.
You might conduct a search for tips for dispensary marketing and find that there are many ways to get the word out about your new business idea, but you still need to determine if it is right for your area.
You might do a search for profitability charts, population statistics, and find locations with similar geographic or demographic information that you can use to help you shape the look and feel and fit of your company in your area.
The interesting thing about doing marketing research to grow your business it that you need to be able to apply what you learn.
Finding out the information is just part of the puzzle. These are assumptions.
In order to make the most of the assumptions, you should also search for contradictory information about your startup idea so you can review and weigh the pros and cons related to the cannabis industry, as is the case in our example.
2. Compare the costs
When starting a business, you should plan to have more upfront costs than you originally planned.
There are lots of unwritten rules about how to plan for capital needs, including “whatever you think you need to start a company, double it!”
It is just a given that new businesses will cost more money than anticipated. If you are a first-time entrepreneur, it’ll be no surprise when you blow a budget or underorder product or supplies.
It is just something that comes with the territory. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Instead, use Google, or other search engines to help you compare the costs of different startup models.
You might have originally thought that opening a local dispensary was the best option for you, but you might find out that every other dispensary in the state is operating online.
That information matters.
If everyone else is operating online, your brick and mortar approach is not innovative or original and will likely just confirm our assumption that you will end up spending more money than you originally thought.
You can also research about business models, including how you will make money in your online or brick and mortar store.
You can earn revenue from more than just sales of the product.
For example, if you are working in an industry like the cannabis industry where there are many questions and people and businesses are still trying to get their footing, you might opt to offer workshops or information classes for customers, parents, schools, and even governments.
If you know a lot about your industry – and you should know a lot about your industry before you get into business – you can do much more than just sell products.
You can also research how to run such workshops, what materials and insight you need to make something like that work, and how to package your products with such services.
3. Business planning
Of course, the internet is full of wide-reaching advice about how to start and grow a business.
The important thing about conducting any kind of research is to pay attention to the source and ask questions of the source, such as the validity, resourcefulness, integrity and of course, ask about how recently the article or material has been published.
A well-written piece will be well-documented, and you shouldn’t have to go looking for such information to confirm answers to your questions.
As you continue your search, use the information you find to help you make decisions about your own business.
For example, you might come across information about in-store marketing and branding tips and decide that is not how you want to run your business.
You might opt for interactive displays instead of stationary ones.
All of this information feeds into your business plan to help you create a vision for the business you want to start and grow.
It’s important to return to your business plan from time to time to see what has changed about your plan.
Also, it is important to conduct new and ongoing research about your industry and see what else you might be able to do to remain competitive, relevant, and impactful.
Research doesn’t stop when your business gets up and running.
In fact, you’ll find that being a business owner is one of the best examples of lifelong learning that you’ll ever encounter.
You’ll have the opportunity to learn about yourself, as well as the world around you and you’ll also learn about what not to do.
4. Looking forward
Documenting your journey as you continue to research and execute on the ideas you come across is also an important part of business startup and growth.
If you track where you started and compare it to where you want to go, you’ll be able to see opportunities for further growth and development down the line.
If you are just flying by the seat of your pants on a regular basis, that kind of business operation will catch up to you.
Research is the hook with which you will hang your business hat.
So if you use the search engines available to you to conduct research as a starting point, you can build your primary research in your area or region by foot, talking to other people, and speaking to other business owners.
The most important part? Never stop learning about your business and how your business can impact others. It’s the best way forward.
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John Packham writes about business and entrepreneurship.