Conducting research is vital in the field of business for both fledging companies and industry veterans alike. No matter if you're starting out in Kenya or expanding to the Far East, it makes sense to look into your corner of the market at your direct competitors.
Researching your competitors can also help you make important business decisions such as entering into a partnership. Here are just a few of the reasons why it's good to brush up on your research skills in business, as well as some tips on how to do so.
Scoping out the competition
The importance of knowing your competition can't be stressed enough. You can gain the upper-hand a lot more effectively by investigating why a company appeals to its target group, what strengths it wields and what its financial situation is. You can then use this knowledge to assess your own shortcomings, as well as how you can use this information to better meet expectations and surpass competitors.
First, though, you’ll need to determine who your top competitors are. There are lots of web tools you can use to aid your research. For British companies, Companies House information includes all limited companies in the UK, while there are various databases for other international regions such as mainland Europe and America. Local businesses can dig up intelligence closer to home at more African-centric sites like AfriSeek.
Then explore why these businesses are doing well, and also where they may be falling short. This is where social networking and consumer review sites come in handy as they can indicate how products are received and how services are performing in the eyes of their target groups.
This will give you key market knowledge and allow you to push your products in the right direction, or in other words, towards what your customers.
Searching for a partner
A partnership can be extremely beneficial in terms of bringing complementary skills and additional expertise to your enterprise, but it needs to be approached with the right information to hand. This is where research comes in. Research enables you to seek out prospective partners and verify them, as well as letting you to rule out individuals and other companies who may not be well suited to your business.
Networking is the best way to conduct practical research into potential partners. Attend as many trade shows and conferences as you can, both in and out of the country. Nationally, cities like Nairobi are growing in export, real estate and agricultural opportunities all the time, and with this comes a growing number of networking events and meet-ups. Matching up ambitions and expectations with other people is essential before committing to a partnership, and so these in-person events are invaluable.
Utilise company financial databases
Utilise company databases to conduct competitive intelligence for your company. You may find it useful to download documents on company financial and legal records when determining the viability of entering into business with a potential partner, a service which Duedil.com offers for free. In addition, check social networks like LinkedIn for recommendations and endorsements before contacting individuals, or keep an eye out for newcomers in business journals and Kenyan business news sites.
Whether you're looking to expand or just getting to know your industry, research really does pay off. If doing business can be likened to war, then knowledge is without doubt the most powerful weapon you have in your arsenal. What's more, getting to know both contacts and competitors, friends and foes can give you insight into your own position in the field, allowing you to evaluate what you're doing and how you could do it better.