Business start up, what research should we do? where can we get information?

Researching your idea



Before you think of going in to business it is essential that you research your idea fully.

If we assume you have decided on the type of business you wish to open; the following are some useful tips you should consider.

  1. Competitors

If yours is unique, have you considered their may be a reason for this? Not necessarily a positive reason.

Most of your research can be done in the comfort of your home, however, there is no short cut to getting out their and seeing the competition “live”, with your own eyes.

Home research

Google (or any search engine you choose) is the obvious first place to look.  Simply typing in the type of competitor, and the relevant location will automatically bring up a number of listings.  Remember not everyone has a web presence, however, most have social media, and this may well appear in the search engine as a result of your search.  Once you have a list, you can click on any links contained in the listing, and in many cases this will take you to their website. (More about websites later), and other business listings are a valuable source of information for 2 reasons. Firstly the type of advert would indicate the competitor’s style, and their potential advertising budget. Secondly, you can again follow links to websites and look in greater detail at your competitor’s style and whether they are current or not. Whilst not everyone utilises this medium, primarily due to costs, many provide free listings and as a result you can obtain a list of competitors this way.

Press coverage/ advertisements are current pieces of information.  Scanning the press (print as well as on the internet, can provide valuable information on activity as well as a feel for their budget spend on advertising.  This often indicates size.

Social Media is the 21st century vehicle for most modern businesses.  By looking at twitter, Face book etc. you can search by town, and business or personal names. Quite often they have links to their websites from social media, indeed some businesses only use social media.

Site visits

Armed with details on your likely competitor, you can now make phone calls, or more importantly (in the case of retail or wholesale) make personal visits, and gain a myriad of facts as a result. Décor, approach, prices, range etc.

Having gained this information, you can begin your pricing, range, product, service levels.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Whilst you cannot know everything about your competitor, home/ and site visits should give you enough information to enable you make a list of what you believe they and their business are good at (strengths).

Compare these with your strengths and weaknesses. How do you compare?

  1. Demographics

Knowing your Competitor is vital, however, knowing the size of your market is just as important. Thankfully, there are some excellent sites that will give you demographic information. A useful hyperlink is enclosed below:-

neighbourhood statistics

By visiting this site you can find information by ward, local authority, and larger areas on a host of statistics, many from the 2011 census.


Male / Female



Type of residencies

Number of rooms

And many more useful statistics.

Knowing your market place enables you to target your marketing and as a result control your spend.

Your local authority provides similar information and this can be found, in the case of Blackpool Council using the hyperlink below:-

Blackpool Council – Publications – Summary

As you would expect this site covers local relevant data including such topics as:-

Business and the local economy

Crime and Community Safety



Population Characteristics

And many more useful statistics

  1. Business Knowledge

Joining Blackpool Library gains you access to its online resources, and in particular to Cobra.  This is a comprehensive, up to date resource, that covers Business information fact sheets, as well as Business opportunity profiles.

You will need to join the Library first, and a hyperlink is attached for your convenience:-

Blackpool Council – Blackpool Libraries – Join the Library

An example of what you can find on Cobra is as follows:-

Blackpool Council – Blackpool Libraries – 24/7 Information Services

If you click on cobra you will find an enormous amount of useful information on your type of business, from what qualifications you need through to marketing tips, as well as useful sites to look for further information.


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