During the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, many of us are having to adapt quickly to learning online. If you’re new to studying from home but still have coursework or a research project to progress, here are some research tips which might help you.
There are many things entrepreneurs have in common: a competitive spirit, expertise, discipline, curiosity, being aware of a problem and finding a solution. There is, however, one skill that every entrepreneur possesses – the ability to conduct good research into their business idea.
A successful business owner will have good knowledge and awareness of customer needs and competitors. They’ll also be familiar with the challenges, emerging needs and trends in their chosen market.
Enterprises can struggle if they do not carry out useful and effective market research. It’s important to develop relevant skills in research, so you can interpret your findings and gain an understanding of a company’s customers and competitors.
Defining customer needs
What are customer’s expectations? These can vary from a good-value product or innovative design to excellent customer service. If you can find out the types of problems your customers are facing, you can create a product that can help overcome them. This could include items that are in short supply and are difficult to access.
Qualitative and quantitative research
There are many ways to conduct research. Two popular methods are qualitative and quantitative research.
Qualitative research is a method that generates data, based on individual customer responses. The questions tend to be open-ended and are usually asked in interviews, focus groups or through looking at secondary data, like reviews or reports.
If you’re planning to conduct a piece of qualitative research while studying from home, why not organise interviews via online video conferencing or send them an email to see if they’re available for a call? You can look up product reviews on Amazon, Yelp and Trip Advisor, among many other websites.
Quantitative research is about numbers. The data you’ll gather from quantitative research comes from statistical and numerical data, usually gathered through surveys (where participants are asked the same set of questions).
By combining elements of both quantitative and qualitative research, you can build a toolkit that will help you define your customer needs and help you come up with a useful idea of your own, or improve an existing enterprise idea.
Primary and secondary research
Along with the skills that can be developed through learning how to carry out quantitative and qualitative research, it’s worth understanding the differences between primary and secondary research, and how useful they can be.
This is any type of research that you collect yourself. A lot of it can be done outside of the classroom and can include:
- Questionnaires – using both qualitative and quantitative questions. You can use Google Forms or Microsoft Forms to build your questionnaire and send it out to your contacts
- Interviews or focus groups – talk directly to people to explore their views and experience via video conferencing
- Surveys – this is a quantitative method that involves asking people to fill in paper or online questionnaires. Survey Monkey is a useful tool for building your own online surveys
Secondary research, also referred to as desk research, is using existing research from third parties. This is easily done online at home. Some sources for secondary research can include:
- Online research
- Company materials
- Market reports
- Government reports
When you begin your research, a good place to start is looking at any secondary sources. See if you can find any reviews on product websites or look through social media to see if any problems are regularly mentioned. From there you can plan your primary research around the findings in your secondary research.
Pulling it all together
There are many opportunities for you to carry out research from home. Various sources are available online and there are tools you can access from your tablet or laptop. Once you’ve puled your research together, you can gain insight into what contributes to the success of an enterprise and use it to generate your own enterprise idea.