How to research a new entrepreneurial business concept

Great ideas come from great research


So you fashion yourself an entrepreneur and would like start a new business.  Before you go to the bank to get your loan, you’ll want to thoroughly research the industry, your potential competitors, your potential customers, as well as your local market.  When doing your research, you’ll want to make sure you have answers to some key questions.

Photo used with Creative Commons license from Brian Wilkins.


1.  What is the outlook and what are trends for the larger industry and market?

The first thing you will want to do is to get the lay of the land within the industry in which you will operate.   The resources below will help us in this manner.


  •  IbisWorld is a great resource to get a broad understanding of large industries within the United States.
  • Use this as an introduction to industries to become more familiar with what’s happening in your prospective industry.

First Research

  • First Research is a nice compliment to IbisWorld and will also cover broad industries.
  • Use First Research to get a different perspective on the industry than IbisWorld offers.

Business Source Complete

  • Use Business Source Complete to find magazine and newspaper articles, as well trade publications that cover your industry.
  • These publications can help fill in any knowledge gaps that are not addressed in the broader industry reports above.

 Other industry resources


2.  Who are my customers and how can I understand them better?

After you get a good idea about the larger industry, you’ll want to research the consumers in your market.  Market research reports, data, and statistics found in the resources below are an excellent place to start.

Mintel Oxygen

  • Mintel Oxygen is a key resource to understand consumer preferences, demand, who’s buying products, how much, when, and how often.
  • Mintel also has excellent reports for consumer markets, so you can find anything from who buys candles, dines at casual restaurants, prefers organic food, or is buying the next Playstation or Xbox.

 Simmons Oneview

  • Simmons Oneview contains demographic information about users of specific consumer products and those who engage in particular activities including: what they use, income and educational level, what types of media they use, and more.


  • Passport contains very in-depth reports on consumer markets, and is particularly useful in understanding international consumer markets.
  • Use Passport to compliment the consumer reports from Mintel and the industry reports from IbisWorld.


3.  How healthy is the local market? Will the location support a new business in my industry?

After you research the consumer market for company idea, service, or product, you will want to adapt that data down to the local level in which you plan to operate.  Your local market could be a city, zip code, state, or region.  The resources below can help you find information about your local market to combine with national consumer market trends.

Census QuickFacts

  • Census QuickFacts provides easy access to some of the most-used economic and social statistics.
  • You will want to use census data to compare how your local market demographics align with the more general national demographics of a consumer market (like what you find in Simmons, Mintel, and Passport,above).
  • American Factifinder is a more advanced Census tool that allows you to dig deep for demographic information including economic and social characteristics of particular city, state, or county.


  • SimplyAnalytics provides demographic, business, or marketing data down to the local level, allowing users to create customized maps and reports with an almost unlimited number of variables.
  • As an example, you could use SimplyAnalytics to find data by zip code on the percentage of people in Columbus, Ohio, who are avid joggers or golfers, or who have bought a bicycle recently.


  • Bizminer contains industry financial ratios, failure and startup rates, competitive market analysis, industry vitality rating, and more for industries in user-specified locations, including county, city, and zip code level.
  • Browse by NAICS sector code to see the full availability of reports and data.
  • Bizminer is a fantastic tool to use for financial benchmarking against industry averages
  • As and example of what you can do with Bizminer, this video shows you how to use Bizminer to benchmark against industry averages of sporting goods companies in a specific location, while also understanding the local market.

3.  Who are my competitors?

Mergent Intellect

  • Use Mergent Intellect companies and competitors by user-defined search criteria, such as size, location, industry, sales, and more.
  • Also use to find nearby companies

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