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Research for a Business Plan: Overview

Topics in Market Research

Market Demographics

  • Demographics of the most typical customer, and psychographics, if available
  • Industry and geographic concentrations of customers

Market Size and Growth

  • Number of potential customers and total sales
  • Forecast for market growth
  • Demographic, social, and technological changes that support growth estimates

Market Needs and Trends

  • Needs and desires the product or service can fulfill
  • Emerging trends and changing customer needs in the market

Distribution and Spending Patterns

  • Current and emerging distribution channels in the market
  • How suppliers and customers are dispersed geographically
  • Primary ways in which customers choose vendors and typical purchase size and frequency


  • Major competitors and their locations, strengths, and weaknesses, their goods/services, and pricing
  • Barriers to entry

Recommended General Resources

Researching Locally

Your business may be very different from the major industries covered by databases. Here are some tips to make your research fit your business idea at a local level:

  • Find industry information that is potentially relevant, even if it is not an exact fit.
  • Check with local Chambers of Commerce or visitors bureaus for local economic and industry information.
  • Look for local chapters of national associations. You might even contact them personally.
  • Find a sample company that is close to yours as a benchmark.

Areas of Research for a Business Plan


Cost of Doing Business

  • Find resources for determining your operating costs.

Related Guides

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Megan Heuer
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