Successful entrepreneurs know that one of the most crucial advantages they can obtain for their business is knowing more about their market then their competitors.
If you think this sounds basic then you are taking a half-assed approach or you’re doing it all wrong. I’m amazed at how little emphasis most budding entrepreneurs place on truly knowing their market.
Too many startups approach market research as a finite aspect of business planning but fail to invest the necessary resources required to actively assess and analyze their market. Avoiding this approach is going to provide you with the insight needed to out-execute your competitors.
Successful execution requires leveraging insight into your market, competitors, customers and culture. In order to glean that insight you need to take a leading-edge approach to aggregating information. If you take a traditional route relying on the educational system, old guard media and the latest books, you’re going to sink.
I’m not totally denying the value of traditional education or print but, as an entrepreneur, the ROI for both is declining. Data is liquid and it is fast moving. If there is a book I need to read, I will know about it because I actively follow the thought leaders and the outliers in my market.
Not Rocket Surgery.
Know who the players are in your market and who the up and comers are. Follow them on twitter. See who they follow and who they interact with. Read what they post. Read their blogs. Pretty soon you will start to be a part of ‘the conversation’, even if it’s just a passive role in the beginning. (When you start to matter, you can bet they will follow you.)
Set Google News alerts for key terms related to your business, customers, market and competitors. Use an RSS reader to aggregate important blogs into one location.
Become a better business person. Mixergy and This Week in Startups are an excellent place to increase your business acumen simply by listening to the stories being shared by successful founders. Entrepreneurs like Andrew Warner @mixergy, Jason Calcanis @jason, and David Heinemeier Hansson @dhh have made incredible contributions to the startup community by providing vast amounts of insight and inspiration for entrepreneurs.
If for some reason you find that all of this doesn’t pique your interest and motivate you enough to make a habit of it, then you probably want to consider doing something else because this is what it takes to win and it’s what the players in your market are doing. (and Or their C-level team.)