Small businesses play a major role in the economy. According to Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses represent 99.7% of all the employer firms in U.S. Though small businesses constitute major portion of all the businesses, they always struggle to sustain. SBA says that nearly 70% of small businesses perish within 10 years. There are many reasons for a business to fail and some of the major reasons are lack of proper planning, lack of industry knowledge, inefficient marketing, unable to differentiate between a true opportunity and just a new idea, lack of competitors intelligence and poor pricing strategies.
Unlike large corporate executives, small business executives or owners are hands on. They can easily have direct customer feed back and see actual ground reality. However, they also need big picture perspective and this is what it is missing. Earlier to get holistic picture of their industry environment, small business owners had to wait for a magazine or newspaper to do a cover story. Now they can search and find lot of information on Internet. Let us see how web research can help small businesses –
Defines marketing problems and opportunities in local markets
Small business owners are close to their customers and have a clear sense of their needs. However, there is chance to get carried away in identifying the opportunities and threats in the market. Web research begins with identifying the issues on a broader sense from different angles and defining the problems and opportunities. It captures the vital information on product consumption, the product substitutes and their reputation as well as other data that can trace out the problems and build the case.
Helps in setting objectives and budget
Lack of proper planning is one of the major reasons for failure of a business. A survey by Michigan CFO Associates on 500 firms states that 99 percent of small business had no written plan for growth. They are driving without a map risking their companies. Web research helps small businesses to predict future trends and helps them to be aware of issues. This makes them prepare for both positive and negative outcomes that may occur in the future. As web research predicts future trends and issues, it helps in planning the budget accordingly to avoid unexpected surprises.
Helps in pricing the products
Most small businesses do improper pricing of their products in order to gain more profits or to sell more products. These kinds of false beliefs will result in loosing out a business opportunity. Statistics state that only 23% of businesses price their products or services properly. Web research provides the crucial information on the pricing of the products. It helps you understand how much consumers are willing to pay, what is the pricing structure of your competitors etc.
Provides information on competitors
One of the important things a small business owner needs to remember is that his company faces local, national as well as international competition. Many small businesses succumb to the intense competition in the globalized business environment. In order to survive and sustain, it is necessary to be aware of the competitors business strategies and developments. Web research could provide key information such as strengths, weaknesses, products, pricing, distribution etc. of the major competitors.
Less investment on research
Though some of the small business owners are aware of the advantages of market research, they are not willing to invest in it, as quality market research is expensive. However, the fact is web research that can provide crucial information is inexpensive. Generally, business owners presume that research means only primary research, which is expensive. Though web research is not a complete alternative to primary research, it can satisfy the basic needs of the research. Many of the small businesses owners are running their companies without necessary information needed for sound decision-making. At least, they can be directionally accurate with the help of web research.
Small business owners and executives can use Internet to find information. However, this can be done only for small data requirements. To get reliable information, analysis and expert suggestions to make serious decisions, they need the help of qualified specialists. This is where professional web research helps small businesses to take well-informed decisions.