Go to the experts!
Its a group of like minded people (or businesses) that operate in the same industry to form an organization or association. They come together to form an organization to take on important tasks that one individual or business would have difficulty doing on their own, but would benefit all the members. For example, trade associations keep track of important data, news, and info pertaining to the industry. They often will host conventions as well where people in the industry come together to share new products and to network with each other.
For example, new laws were put into place with Covid about what is allowed and not allowed. Restaurants may have gone to their trade association - the Massachusetts Restaurant Association - to find out details and suggestions on the new laws. The association itself may have even lobbied or advised the governor on the regulations as things were unfolding. They often provide valuable insight through resources, such as industry benchmarks and standards as well as industry income, expenses, etc. Typically one has to pay to be a member of an association, so there are many benefits they will try to sell you on.
For the purposes of this class, I want you to be familiar with the many associations related to your industry (food? retail? personal hygiene? technology? etc.), know which ones there are, and try to find out as much FREE info as possible. Often their websites will have resources that will be useful to you.
Explore, explore, explore. The more you know about who is leading the industry, the better prepared you are! Start by "googling" the industry you are in and the words "trade association". I promise so many will pop up! You can even try looking through a list here.
Look for any magazines, reviews, papers, etc. in your industry - there are probably a variety out there. Be aware of them and check into the articles they write often to help you stay up to date with news and info that is pertinent to what you care about.
Try Googling the name of your industry with "news".
Could also just be articles about your industry, try searching under the "news" search in Google.
Find the thought leaders! This may take time, but find out the heroes and heroines in your industry that you look up to and then try to follow them on social media and keep up with what they are saying about current trends in your industry.
Other business owners - it is good practice to go talk to similar business owners, try to get out of town so they don't feel like you are competition. They could even become a mentor to you!
Many industries have some sort of government oversight. Know who they are and how to get to info you may need.
Try to Google your industry, then ".gov"
Google - Yes, try searching various terms and keywords to see what you come up with! Get creative. Try lots of things, dig into the search results.
MCC Librarians - Seriously, reach out to a MCC Librarian and tell them what you are trying to research. They will help you.
How to find Industry Benchmarks
Yes, this will seem hard at times to get access to useful and free info. Many places want to charge for info, but we can try hard to find free info as best we can. At some point, it may make sense for you to purchase a report, but I would consult with Professor on that first.
Resources to dig into:
Use the NASIC code (at top of page) and type "free report" in Google and see what comes up
Then search the code with "industry benchmarks" and your industry
Use BizMiner reports (seeBizMiner section below)
Use free databases as outlined below (see Key Customers section)
Search online with keywords using your industry and "benchmarks"
How to know what an industry benchmark and important market trends and info are?
Find resources that help you answer the following questions. Use the MCC Market Research guide to assist you. You will summarize this info into your business plan. This is helping you make the case and find important info to help you understand your market opportunity.
*These questions are to help guide you to get the most info, it is up to you go figure out which ones make most sense for your business/industry.
For example, when searching the internet for "clothing industry" and "benchmarks", this great resource was found about key clothing apparel metrics. Take a look at the example, can you find any for your industry?
Are there any important regulation, rules, licenses, etc. that I should know about now or in the near future?
What is required of me to have, if applicable? Check here
Go to your local city or town and review what their business resources page offers. Will anything benefit or impact you? Example - City of Lowell
What are market trends, or things on the horizon for the industry?
What are the industry benchmarks:
Average revenue for small business
Average prices of products
Average costs of products
Average number of customers each month
Average purchase of a customer per year in your industry? Per month? Per day?
How often do consumers spend in your industry? Daily, monthly, yearly?
What factors seem to be changing the market, or changing the industry?
What developing trends can make a difference for future business (my business)?
Are there future changes in demographics that a business will want to consider?
If you are considering opening a brick and mortar location, there are a whole other set of questions to ask yourself in addition to these. Find the "Location" document on the Location page for more info.
A restaurant expert may discuss trends away from big family size portions towards small plates. This means that a business may want to think about highlighting tapas (small plate) selections and design a food menu that accommodates this trend.
A clothing company reads articles such as this one about how business dress is changing post pandemic. This means they may make a decision to design less formal business attire and get into the business casual field.
Biz Miner Reports
Here is a market research company that we have access to reports FREE HERE
Go into this folder to find reports already downloaded. If you don't see your business industry, contact professor with your NACIS number via email asking for a Biz Miner report.
Don't know your NACIS number? Use this NAICS site to help you drill down. The site provides industry codes which will be useful in the future when trying to find benchmarks (or standards) in your industry.