fontys_businessOne of the most important factors towards the longevity of a start-up is continuous research and assessment of the competition. Gaining even the smallest edge on your business competitors can mean the difference between failure and success.

An astute entrepreneur understands that there’s more to creating a start-up than a good business idea and funding. Covering all the bases includes researching the market and this includes assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the competition. Research is a vital component of any new business and ensuring there is an actual market for your intended business will include understanding your competitor’s stake in the market.

There are a few tried and tested ways to gather the right information needed to assess whether your start-up is a feasible option.

Assessing your competitors

If you are looking to uncover some information on your business competitors then start with an online check at Companies House. All UK limited companies are required to register with Companies House and information is held on over three million UK companies. Many of the company details are free to access but for a minimum £1.00 charge you can gather additional information. Accessible competitor data can include the nature of the business, insolvency details, company accounts, annual returns and current appointments reports.

Online business information sources

The internet is one of the best tools for gathering competitive intelligence on your rivals. If you know where to look you can easily access vital pieces of business information to give clues on how your competitors are faring in the marketplace. Competitor information can be found at websites such as Linkedin, Pipl, Trip Advisor and ZoomInfo. Don’t forget to check your competitor’s actual website for information as well as social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to research their reputation and customer feedback.

Continual research is vital

Competitor research shouldn’t stop once you have gathered and assessed your competitive intelligence; this is an on-going process for any business. Many successful companies have a market research department and successful business owners understand how important this type of information is. Companies House offers a subscription service that includes access to over 240 million company documents. If you pay a regular fee per month, you will have a vital source of market research information at your fingertips and be able to regularly assess your competitors.

The overseas competition

Most companies now use online trading as part of their business sales and with the internet you can reach a global customer base. It’s a good idea to research your competitor’s stake in the overseas market if you’re looking to conduct business outside of your own country. There are similar company databases offering free information in places like the US and the UAE. This information can include overseas company accounts, mortgage charges and alternative names used by UK companies in foreign destinations.

Once you have researched and analysed your competitive intelligence you should have a better understanding of the marketplace including your competitor’s slice of the market. This information alone, if used correctly, can help you to assess your strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the competition. If necessary, you can then find the solutions to help give your business that vital edge over the competition.