Creating my startup — Step 2 — Be a Spy!

Leer en español — Check Step 1 here

Once you already get an Idea and you know it can have a real impact, the next step is to reasearch your industry and your possible competitors, When we say “research your industry” we say that you should know and understand your future customer needs.

the more you know about your industry the more advantage and protection you will have.

Today find information is not a problem anymore, even 10 or 15 years ago, dealing with information was more a problem of sorting through it all than of finding raw data. That generality is more true every day. There are websites for business analysis, financial statistics, demographics, trade associations, and just about everything you’ll need for a complete business plan.

Industry participants

When we talk about “industry participants” we are not talking only about competitors, we are also talking about all the people and companies that get involved in your buiseness model, if you are sort of online store then you need to know that you have a target market (customers), competitors, but also you have other players like shipping services, payment gateways, providers, etc… if you do not consider all the participants then you will enter in a danger zone, have a clear view of the participants in your industry and how they interact each other is a crucial point that will be one of the keys for your Startup suceed.

Target consumers

Be sure to also conduct your own primary research to get information specific to your particular, unique business and the sub-set of consumers you hope to attract, A few research tools to consider include interviews, surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups, which can help you indentify price, features of your product service as well as the strengths and weaknesses of competitors. It is important to have an open mind, probably you think that your startup idea is perfect, but after you start research about your customers using things like surveys you probably will notice that your customers are looking for some additional features or a slightly different service, do not worry if you have to rethink your startup idea, that is part of the Industry research.

A good example of a business that identified and catered to unmet consumer needs is Starbucks, which turned an everyday beverage into an experience, while Starbucks is known for its good coffee, it is also renowned for its atmosphere, where business professionals, college students, writers and anyone who wants to kick back can set up shop for hours with free wifi and a comfortable workspace, which is why today there is a Starbucks on every corner. Starbucks determined what consumers wanted and just how much they would pay for it and revolutionized an industry.

Now let’s start talking about your competitors, What are they doing?, What are they offering?, what are the differences between competitors each other?, How can you do better?, Why your target consumers will choose you?. Well the best way of answer these questions and shine against your competitors is researching them. Below I will give you some tips for make a good benchmark for your Startups and a good research:

1. Go beyond a Google research

Of course you should start by googling your competitors and visiting their websites.

Google is not enough!

But there are other tools that will give you more useful informations and will allow you to have stronger reports about what are doing your competitors:

  • SpyFu: A great resource to research what keywords and Adwords our competitors are buying.
  • Google Trends: it’s helpful when he wants “to stay on top of the latest in industry, comparing to others, and seeing where people who come to a competitor’s website site go.
  • Google Alerts: You can set up an alert on your competitors to see what others are talking about them, later when you start your company you can set up an alert on your own company to see if anyone else is talking about you.

2. Do some Reporting

The following are great tools for do some reporting and gather information on your competitors:

3. Tap the social network

Of course you need to know what are your competitors doing in their social networks like facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.

Watch their activity!

These social networks are marketing tools that all the companies are using, and they are the nearest way of see the relationship of your competitors with their customers, you can also stay on top of the last news about them, see what events or new features they are promoting.

4. Ask their customers

Do it! it’s simple

This is the cheapest way of gather information about your competitors, you can just ask to their customers how is their experience, well, actually if your competitor has a very specific market probabbly you do not know any of his clients, however Twitter is a great way of find out customers of other companies, you can look in twitter who is tweeting about specific company (if your competitors have twitter account, probably they have one), you can find people tweeting about them, then you can mention them in tweets with specific questions like “hey why you prefer this company and not this one”, or “how are things going with that company”, and many other things you can ask them to gather stories that will help you understand more your competitors.

5. Attend to their events and webinars

If you are whathing them on their social networks and suscribed to their newsletter probably you will start receiving their notifications and emails, try to attend to every conference they promote, or webinar they will give, that will give you an idea of the quality of their services and products and also their weaknesses, read their emails do not throw them away.

6. Make yourself one of their clients

Spy your competitors, being one of their clients

This is another great way of know more how your competitors do their stuff, you just need to call them up and tell them that you are interested in their products/services, make sure they will start giving you very useful information, if you can buy their products or services be one client more, document all their proceses be like an infiltrated spy.

If you have an idea and want to start an MVP or take your idea or project to the next level, I know what you need check this.

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