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Research methods

Entrepreneurs are often researching new or emerging products and services. This makes locating supporting information a challenge. Try some of these strategies:

Find a proxy: Use secondary sources to research similar offerings as a first step to understanding the potential market. For example, a report about fitness tracking devices might shed light on market interest for a new mobile fitness app.

Look for manufacturers: Search Amazon, Alibaba or ThomasNet.com for suppliers or manufacturers of similar products, then research the companies that make those products.

Search the literature: Using your knowledge of proxy products/services and their companies, search for articles in local, national, and international news, business, and trade publications. Articles often point out industry trends and consumer preferences as well as other emerging products and services. Articles are also good sources for additional statistics and reports.

Go beyond business: Think about other subject areas that might contain relevant research to support your venture. The mobile fitness app makers might want to consult sources in computer science, engineering, and health sciences. A real estate venture might find relevant research in the areas of architecture and historic preservation. Environmental science publications could help the designers of an innovative recycling program.

Associations: Professional and trade associations track legislation and trends, among other things, on behalf of their members. Be aware that the reports they produce are biased in the industry's favor, but such reports can shed light on things like consumer preferences and legal issues, which can then be further researched in other sources.

Books, encyclopedias

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