What do I know about my industry?
Learning about and analyzing your industry can take as little or as much time as your interest holds. Only you can decide how much information you need. If you don’t understand what the questions below are asking, research the phrases on the Internet.
IDENTIFY your business
- Are you selling a service or product?
- Are you a retailer or a wholesaler?
- Are you selling to businesses (B2B), consumers (B2C) or both?
- Is your market local, national, international or a combination?
- Will you use a store front, Internet or both to sell your product or service?
- Is your business a franchise?
- Is your industry seasonal?
- What is the history of your industry?
- Determine the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code and/or NAICS Code for the industry. http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/
SIZE AND TRENDS of your business
- Who are the leading businesses in your industry?
- What is the size of your industry in terms of gross sales in both dollars and/or units?
- Where is your industry in the life cycle: new, expanding, stable or declining?
- Is your industry growing faster or slower than the economy?
- What factors affect growth and decline in your industry?
- Is your industry sensitive to economic fluctuations?
- Does your industry thrive in economic downturns or economic upturns?
- What is the market growth rate historically and projected for the next 3-5 years?
- What factors have driven major change in your industry historically?
- What is the potential for industry growth and profitability?
- What are the barriers to entry?
- What other industries are major players in your industry?
- What is your distribution channel?
- What infrastructure is needed in your industry?
- How many companies are expected to enter your industry in the near future?
- What current events (political, natural disasters, economic, government) could affect your industry?
- What government regulations currently affect your industry?
LABOR, TECHNOLOGY & RAW MATERIALS used in your business
- What are the labor requirements?
- Is there as surplus or shortage of skilled workers in your industry?
- Is your labor force unionized?
- What specific technology and software is used in your industry?
- What role does technology play in your industry?
- Is technology used in your business changing?
- Will you rely heavily on raw materials? If so, do the same research on the industry of your raw materials.
PROFIT AND SALES of your business
- What are the standards for pricing, billing, hourly fees?
- How do businesses make a profit in your industry?
- If selling a product, what is the industry price mark up?
- What are the factors critical for success in your industry? (example restaurant COGS/labor percentages)
- Free: US Government Census
- Free: SBA SizeUp Widget If you are a small business owner, you need to know how your business stacks up with the competition in order to succeed. SizeUp will help you manage and grow your business by benchmarking it against competitors, mapping your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locating the best places to advertise.
- Free: BizStats
- Free: SBDCNet
- Free: Scarborough Research Free Studies
- Free: Pew Internet Datasets
- Pay For: Hoovers
- Pay For: MarketResearch.com
- Pay For: Gale Cengage Learning
- Pay For: Dun and Bradstreet
- Trade journals
- Trade Associations