Before moving forward with your business idea, it is important to get the facts. Completing basic research - like market research - can save time, money and a lot of heartache. Let’s start with the basics that apply to all aspiring business owners: Do you have an idea or a business opportunity? An idea is fun to talk about, but a market opportunity can make you money. To have a real business, you have to:
- find people who will be willing to pay for your product or service (there have to be enough of them to make it worth your while) – research market potential using census data and demographic databases
- deliver the service or manufacture the product – research production options using business databases
- know who you compete with – research competitors using business databases
- understand whether your product is unique or proprietary – research patent filings
SBA's online tool, SizeUp, can help you know how your business stacks up against competitors. It can also map your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locate the best places to advertise. Through IASourceLink, you also have access to the Iowa Business Concierge. The Business Concierge can provide you with free market research information and data. The Iowa Small Business Development Centers also provide free one-on-one consulting and market research assistance at no charge to Iowa firms.
There is an abundance of information available to assist you with planning your marketing research at SBA: Understand Your Market. Ask.Com also provides components of a marketing strategy plan.
Go to and search for "Business Research" to find other Iowa resources that can help.