Carine Research

Using market intelligence for starting and growing companies

Aug. 11th | Posted by 0 comments

Strategy is based on assumptionsWritten by Heather Carine

When I read Eric Ries’ book, The Lean Start-up, the phrase that stood out for me was ‘strategy is based on assumptions’.

It’s human nature to be overly optimistic of the future, and underplay the difficulties of getting there, particularly when you are starting a business.

That’s where market intelligence comes in.

It’s a reality check for your assumptions.

What is market intelligence?
Market intelligence is both an ongoing process of gathering information about your market place, and review and analysis of that information to glean insights to support and challenge your assumption, and assist in your decision making.

People in business usually have a good ‘general’ understanding of their business, and their business environment.

However, there are pivotal times in business they need to dive deeper into what is happening in their market.

For start-ups, even before you have made your first sale, you need to be looking for information that supports or challenges, your view of the market you are entering.

A start-up business needs three things:

  • a problem to solve;
  • a solution;
  • a customer base – that can grow.

As a start-up, you may be focussing on finding information, such as:Preview

  • is there a business problem that needs a new solution
  • how is the problem currently solved
  • who needs a solution
  • who is the customer
  • what do you know about the customer
  • what do you know about the industry
  • how are decisions made about buying the type of solution you want to develop?

Why use market intelligence
You may use market intelligence to satisfy your own curiosity about your business plans, but more likely with your start-up, you will be using market intelligence when you need to convince others of your strategy.

This may include, satisfying funders, potential business partners, potential clients, or your business colleagues that you know your market, and how your solution will fill a void.

Information sources
What information sources should you be using for market intelligence?

When I talk about sources, I often show an iceberg diagram.

We all have access to the content that is readily available on the web – it may be company web sites, statistics, news articles from google news or blog sites.

Below the watermark, the information becomes harder to access, but that is often the type of intelligence you are looking for.

This includes:

  • Anything that requires a subscription, such as large archives of media and trade journals or datasets
  • An organisation’s in-house knowledge
  • Personal knowledge

Key points:

  • Market intelligence is an ongoing process.
  • Your strategy for a start-up is not set in stone, and is based on many assumptions.
  • In a start-up, where you are still working out the problem, developing a solution and finding customers, you need to look for information that verifies or challenges your assumptions.
  • You may not always find the answer you wanted to hear, but you are ahead of the competitors that don’t ask the questions, and don’t look for answers.

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