Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) is a creative work, such as a design, invention or manuscript, whose rights are owned by your company. Those rights are established through a legal mechanism, such as a trademark, copyright or patent. IP is valuable – sometimes the most valuable asset a company can hold.

Here are the three major ways to protect your IP:ip-blog-image

  • Patents: You apply for a patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Patents provide 20 years of protection from the filing date. You can apply for a:
    • Utility patent: Available to anyone who discovers or invents a new, useful process, mechanism, product, or composition of matter. You can also patent a significant improvement to any of these.
    • Design patent: Used for new designs of manufactured items
    • Plant patent: For use when you discover or breed a new, asexually reproducible variety of plant
  • Trademarks: Protect symbols, names, phrases, logos, artwork, colors and sounds used to distinguish your goods and services from others. Registration is not required, but is available. Trademarks remain in effect indefinitely.
  • Copyrights: Provide protection for original works of authorship, including musical, literary, dramatic, and artistic, whether published or unpublished. Copyrights automatically attach to original works, but you can also register them at the U.S. Copyright Office. Copyrights last from 70 to 120 years.

A startup company might, in its rush to get a product or service to market, not fully protect its IP. After all, it takes some time and money to register a patent. However, failure to protect IP can ultimately be very expensive and dangerous to a company. You have to worry about a partner, executive or employee stealing your IP, not to mention the threat of corporate spying. Here are some tips for protecting your IP:

  • Educate yourself and your team on the topic of IP. Learn the differences among trade secrets, patents, copyrights and trademarks. The time you spend up front understanding IP will pay big dividends later on.
  • If you have a novel idea, make sure it isn’t already patented. Do a Google search to see if it makes sense to spend your money on a protected idea.
  • Patent your valuable ideas, even if you don’t necessarily plan to develop them on your own. Someone else may want to buy a patent from you.
  • Use an expert attorney to file your patent. Always insist on a fixed fee.
  • Do not delay filing your patent application. It’s like taking a number at the deli counter – it holds your place in line. After initial submission, you have 12 months to augment your application and fill in any missing details. The approval process requires patience, since it takes up to five years. That’s why you often encounter the term “patent pending.”
  • Identify through an audit your non-patented IP, such as copyrights and trademarks, whether registered or unregistered.
  • You may need to file for international patents, because a U.S. patent won’t protect you from international competition.
  • Use non-disclosure agreements with all employees and consultants to prevent them from stealing your IP.

To research and file patents may cost you tens of thousands of dollars. A commercial loan from IOU Financial is an easy, fast and low-cost way to finance the protection of your IP. We can provide funds within 24 hours of approval, so contact us today.


IOU Financial is Expanding Its Fast, Easy Loans to Canada

The demand for business lending in Canada is red hot, according to official statistics from the Canadian government. The Biannual Survey of Suppliers of Business Financing, last updated for the second half of 2014, shows business lenders disbursed 9.6 percent more money compared to the first half of 2014. That reflects the highest growth rate since 2011 and continues several years of consecutive increases.

Figure 1 Value of Credit Outstanding and Disbursed to All Business (CA$ billions).

Figure 1 Value of Credit Outstanding and Disbursed to All Business (CA$ billions).

The figure clearly indicates the need for significantly greater lending resources in Canada, which is why IOU Financial, one of America’s fastest growing commercial lenders, has launched its Canadian business loan product. With this lending program, Canadian small businesses – both English speaking and French – are able to borrow money in as little as one business day.

Canadian small businesses will appreciate the many advantages we offer to small- and medium-sized enterprises:

  • Quick Application: If you are accustomed to the mountain of paperwork banks collect from prospective borrowers, you’ll be astonished at how quickly you can apply to IOU Financial. It takes 10 minutes or less, and you can get a pre-approval right away.
  • Convenient Repayments: Unlike many conventional lenders that hit you with a huge monthly payment, IOU Financial collects daily fixed payments directly from your bank account. This greatly reduces the impact on your working capital.
  • No Upfront Costs: There are no upfront costs or hidden fees when you deal with IOU Financial. The application process is completely free and no-obligation.
  • No Prepayment Penalties: You can repay your balance at any time without penalty. We charge simple interest on our loans, which means you pay interest only on the principal you owe, not on accrued interest.
  • Affordable Rates: Our loan rates start as low as 6 percent. Our rates are half of what you would pay for a cash advance.
  • Loan Renewals: You can renew your IOU Financial loan after you’ve repaid 40 percent of the principal amount.

The Power of “Yes”

The biggest difference between IOU Financial Canada and ordinary banks is that we do everything possible to get you funded quickly, whatever your credit history or score. You see, we look at the whole picture when you apply for loan, including your company’s equity and cash flow. Many of our customers in the U.S. come to us after being turned down by a conventional bank. We are proud of the fact that we approve 85 percent of applications, based on the overall health of their business.

Our clients rave about our services. Voodoo Vapor Inc. told us, “We received our funding from IOU within days and it enables us to put newer product on our shelves more frequently. This gives us more reasons to engage with our target market on social media, attract new customers, and build relationships with loyal customers.” You can read the full case study here.

Our staff is ready to assist you with any questions you have! Canadian merchants and brokers are invited to call 844-750-5468 for more information on how the IOU Financial small business loan product could impact their business.

How Small Business Owners Can Learn From US Olympians

When you hear the words Olympics and Team USA, the pure dominance at the Rio games from athletes such as Michael Phelps, the women’s gymnastic team, and the women’s beach volleyball team come to mind. But when you hear the words Olympics and business owner, you may not see a connection. Competing in the Olympics and being a savvy small business owner may have more similarities than you think.

When you’re a business owner in today’s competitive market, it can be hard to stay on top each day, quarter, and year. However, by learning from how Team USA trained their way to an amazing showing at the Olympics, your business may be better prepared for market dominance.  Here are 5 ways that business owners can learn from the USA Olympians’ success in the Rio games.


  1. Teamwork

When you watch the communication between beach volleyball athletes Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, it is pure magic. Their understanding of their respective roles and how they fit together makes it easier to find the correct location when it’s their moment to strike, and their approach to teamwork has translated into domination of most matches by large margins. Follow their lead. Work as a team, communicate with each other, and be clear in your team’s objectives. Working as a team will only make your business more dominant.


  1. Know the talents of each person

Many small businesses fail because they force employees to do tasks they lack the skillset to execute well. The women’s gymnastic team is a clear demonstration of getting it right. Their coaches know the skillset of each gymnast, and they allow those athletes to execute their specific events.  Putting the brash employee at the helm of sales calls or putting your best communicator behind the scene helping new hires fill out their time card is not a good use of your talent pool. Sometimes making a change and switching the person you’re paying to do a task with the person who is the right fit is a smart logistical move. The women’s gymnastics team changed their rotations and identified the right talent for each event. Play to your strengths and let those talents rise!


  1. Preparation

Have you seen the preparation that goes into a single event at the Olympics? If you haven’t, you should watch any athlete’s story and see where they started in their event preparation. Winners are not built overnight; they put in work for years before they can aim for gold. Your business should follow the same path.

By bringing on the right talent for the future, your business can prepare for the road ahead. Sure, you have immediate needs, but you should also look to bring on and train a team for the future. Prepare for growth and hire visionaries. Anticipate rough times, so hire great problem solvers. Look for the talents you need to weather storms and when the rain comes you’ll be ready to find good use of the extra water.


  1. Know your focus and focus on what you know.

It’s not a question that Michael Phelps knows swimming. He knows the events he is good at and the ones he is not, and he uses this knowledge to direct his focus. Do you know your business model? What product does your business excel at providing consumers? Knowing what your business is and how to develop that product or service in a focused and exact way will only add success. Trying to do too much or expand too fast may give you excitement, but it could also leave you watching other competitors take home gold.


  1. Adaptability

Structure is good, but failure to adapt is business suicide. Times change, interests change, and your business should adjust. This is no different than when Olympians get to the games. They size up who is in the lane next to them and push a little harder down the stretch. Relay teams see if they are ahead or behind and adjust to the difference, and when setbacks happen, the U.S. has found ways to get back up, refocus, and go after it even harder. Your small business should focus on its niche but also be ready to re-focus and adapt to the changing environment around your company and its customers.



It is no question the United States Olympic teams have dominated in Rio. Domination has come with preparation, focus, and other skills needed to rise above the crowd and take these games by storm. Running a business is no different. Watching the ways of Team USA can be a lesson in how to not only make it to the top tier in your field, but also walk away with gold to show for your hard work.

6 Ways Overstocking Costs Your Small Business

When you are running a small business money is often tight. Companies need to make sure they allocate their cash strategically, because too much spending in one area can cause shortfalls in others.

One costly mistake can be overstocking inventory and materials. In a merchandising company, inventory represents the goods that will be sold. For a manufacturing company, overstocking can result from buying too many raw materials and components. In either case, overstocking can create several unwanted costs that can overwhelm the savings that comes from buying in bulk:

  1. Storage costs: When you have a large amount of inventory or raw goods on hand, you need sufficient space to hold the materials. That translates into leasing, buying or building storage facilities and warehouses, which must be secured, powered, insured and staffed. If you create additional warehouse space, you might see an increase in your transportation costs as well.
  2. Deterioration: Many things can go wrong when you have an overstocked warehouse. Often times, your merchandise and raw materials wait longer before they are removed for use. This is a critical problem for items that can spoil, such as foodstuffs, agricultural goods, pharmaceuticals and anything with an expiration date. In addition, every time an item must be moved, it is subject to damage that can ruin its value. Overstocking items can result in additional movements and staging that can lead to wastage.
  3. Shrinkage: The more materials your small business keeps on hand, the harder it is to guard it all. It’s easier for a worker to steal an item when it’s one of many, since its loss is harder to recognize. To help prevent shrinkage, you will have to spend extra money on security precautions. Any way you slice it, shrinkage is costly.
  4. Obsolescence: You might get a great deal on a huge order of some item, only to find out that it has gone out of style before you can sell off your excess inventory. Fads come and go, and the public can be fickle. Furthermore, you don’t want to get stuck with an item when a new, improved version is announced that makes your current inventory obsolete.
  5. Economic downturn: A recession can happen at any time, and with it a downturn in demand. They last thing you want is to be stuck with too many raw materials just as you cut back on production. That’s exactly what can happen if you buy too much at one time. Overstocking is the enemy of just-in-time manufacturing, which is the best way to keep your production in sync with demand.
  6. Unbalanced spending: Overstocking means over-allocating working capital to inventory and raw goods. You then might find yourself short of funds to finance the purchase of equipment, facilities and other capital goods, as well as to pay other expenses and liabilities. For example, you might order extra raw goods in anticipation of increasing production, and then realize you’ll need more trucks to transport the goods. If you can’t afford to buy the trucks you’ll need, your extra raw goods won’t increase production, but they will boost costs.

Sometimes, it does make sense to buy in unusually large amounts, such as when you are certain that all of the purchases can be used quickly to increase sales. If you find yourself short on working capital but want to take advantage of a great deal from a supplier, contact IOU Financial for a quick and easy commercial loan to tide your business over until you turn your purchases into sales.

Slow Season Business Tips for Hair Salon Owners

Hair salons have peak and slow seasons, just like most other small businesses. Typically, a decline occurs in the summer, when warmer weather keeps clientele outdoors, according to Salon Today. With children out of school, most families travel or spend more time at home and don’t have the time to stop by the hair salon. However, the slow season is no time to rest for the salon owner. Take advantage of those empty appointment slots by using your time to develop creative ways to promote your small business and prepare for the busy season.


Think Outside the Box

Creative strategies can prove to be extremely advantageous during the slow months. Consider ways in which you can encourage walk-ins and increase repeat sales.

  • Utilize social media, such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to share photos of your work and advertise any specials.
  • Have “pop up sales” and offer discount prices on hair treatments or merchandise (hair shampoos and creams) for a few days. Announce the sale on social media, on your salon’s website and on the outside of your salon. Individuals are incentivized by good deals, and may make time for a hair appointment to save money even if they weren’t planning for it.
  • Word of mouth can be the best advertising; create a referral program where you reward your existing clients for bringing in new business. You can offer a free blow dry with a paid haircut or a discount on the next treatment for any customer who brings in a friend.
  • Diversify your services by offering classes. You can teach people how to braid hair, how to give themselves the perfect blow-out, or how to curl hair with their straightener.


Improve Operations

During the months that you are booked solid, you likely do not have the time to improve your daily operations. Utilize the free time that you have during the summer to organize your salon.

  • Take stock of inventory to determine what new items you need to order to prepare for the busy season.
  • Clean out your stock room to make everything easy to find.
  • Evaluate the condition of your salon and consider making improvements to improve the space, such as adding more sinks for hair washes or a larger waiting area.
  • Don’t just focus on the inside of your salon; find ways to improve operations online as well. Contact an online marketing professional to discuss marketing campaigns that can help you reach a wider audience. You may need to redesign your website or invest money into advertising to boost sales.


Train Staff

During the slow season, you may have had to let some of your staff go, but don’t forget to prepare for the busier months. Give yourself enough time to find experienced salon staff that specializes in the services you offer, such as haircuts, hair coloring, keratin treatments, etc. You may want to give each employee a trial period to verify skills before committing to hiring them when times get busy.


Need funding to make some of your new ideas a reality, or just help with your cash flow, before things get busy? Contact IOU Financial for information about small business loans and how to get pre-approved for a loan in 24-hours.

Slow Season Business Plan for Auto Repair and Body Shop Owners

Summer is here, which means soaring gas prices and as a result, the slow season for many auto repair businesses. Although your shop may be empty, it is important to use this time wisely. There are many things to be done during the slow months to help you take advantage of your busier times of year. What you do during the summer can help you plan ahead and make necessary improvements, especially if you’re in an area of the country with harsh winters and are busy making accident-related repairs during the colder months.

Take the time to follow this body shop and auto repair business plan now so you can cash in later. Here are the steps:


Know Your Numbers

You will have very profitable months and other times when business is very slow, so you need to learn your numbers and plan accordingly. Calculate your bottom line – how much you need to make to keep your business up and running. This includes your rent, employee salaries, insurance and other fees. If you need assistance in budgeting and notating, there are tons of free resources to use. Check out the Business Budget Smart Sheet to assist you in keeping daily and monthly costs.

After you have started figuring out your numbers, analyze how many cars you are able to fix in one day, as body shops are limited by the amount of staff and available days for repair. Once you know your numbers, you can plan on ways to maximize steady work depending on how many repairs you are able to logistically make.


Create a Seasonal Calendar

This task can be hard for new auto repair owners, but should be elementary for anyone who has ran the business for over one year. To plan for slow season, know when the slow times will occur. These can happen for a few days around certain holidays, a week if a local fair comes to town, or a few months during the summer. Once you know when your business is bound to slow down, you can create strategies to bring in more sales and work on your business during that time.


Implement Marketing Strategies

Many body shop owners make the mistake of increasing marketing during busy months as the extra cash provides an opportunity to invest in advertising. However, that is the wrong strategy. You are limited by the available bays and employees, and could end up turning clients away or asking for long wait times. Instead of attracting new clients when you are already busy, save the profits from the busy months to invest in auto repair marketing strategies during the slow months.

When advertising, consider what marketing strategies you can offer to encourage clients to visit your shop. You can offer slow season discounts on car repairs and maintenance, such as a free car wash with an oil change or a free $20 gas card with a repair job over $250. Consider what special services you can offer in addition to regular ones; options may include window tinting, car detailing and roof rack installations. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your auto repair marketing.


Make Improvements

When times are slow, enlist your staff in making improvements to your business that you would not otherwise have time for. Cleaning and organizing will make the busy months go by more smoothly. Take inventory of your equipment to check if anything is outdated or broken and needs to be replaced. Survey your entire business to see if anything needs improvements that you can make when times are slow. Perhaps your driveway needs to be repaved or your waiting area needs to be redone.


Research a Small Business Loan

If you take the steps listed above and discover that equipment needs to be replaced, you need to launch a marketing campaign, or you need more cash flow, use this slow time to research your small business loan options. Alternative lenders like IOU Financial offer loans for these types of situations and offer fast turnaround times. You can have your cash in hand and implement your auto repair business plan before summer is over, positioning yourself well to get ahead of the competition and make the most of your next busy season.


Contact us to learn more about using a loan to get ahead this summer.

Modernize your Equipment and Systems to Bring in New Customers

Freight-Base was ready to develop an online system that would give them an edge over their competitors, but they needed capital quickly to launch it.

When the owner was turned away by a local bank, IOU Financial’s fast and simple process became his go-to lending resource, both for his business and his charitable foundation.freightbase-quote

Freight-Base, which specializes in international logistics, had been in business for thirty years when owner Jack Groat was ready to make his big idea a reality. He had hired a team to create a worldwide GPS tracking system that would allow customers to track every step of the shipping process, view photos of their freight, and get detailed location information. When Jack approached the local bank to get the capital he needed for additional research and developing the system’s website, he was turned away despite his business’s long tenure.

He then pursued a home equity loan. When he saw that the paperwork required him to disclose extensive information about his business and his charities, he decided that wasn’t the right route for him either. IOU caught his eye and he started investigating what alternative lending could do for him.

Loan Logistics Made Simple

Jack decided to go with IOU Financial, and the entire process, from application to receiving funding, was only 48 hours.

Freight-Base quickly put their $50,000 loan to work to enhance, the online portal for their worldwide GPS tracking system. They are also using the loan to upgrade their online quoting system so it can provide an accurate, instant, door-to-door quote. The system gives Freight-Base an edge in the market in two different ways: most large logistics companies don’t offer door-to-door quotes and have a waiting period for quote estimates. With these upgrades, Freight-Base has an edge over its larger competition. Jack said the product is in process of gradually expanding so that it covers more countries.

“Even though we’ve been in business a long time, it’s nice to be super excited about something that no one else has. You’re competing against the monsters of the industry. It’s a great feeling you have inside that you’re doing something that helps the company and helps the employees.”

Cash Flow to Help Cowboys and Cowgirls

Jack was so pleased with his experience that he returned to IOU when he needed additional cash flow for his charity, the Little Boots Foundation. The foundation holds a family rodeo and vendor show each year that offers fun, non-competitive cowboy and cowgirl activities for children. The challenge was the large, upfront cost of paying all the vendors for the event before they had their proceeds in hand.

“In the past, I took a loan from my company or a personal loan to cover the cost of the festival,” he said.

With IOU, he applied for a loan in the morning and received the funds in the afternoon. By having the cash flow to pay in full, he has been able to negotiate better prices with the vendors.

“It’s so convenient. I can’t tell you how pleased I am,” he said. “This is the first year in nine years that the entire festival is already paid off, and now we are just able to push the promotion and really enjoy the festival.”

Fast Capital with Clear Terms

Not only was IOU Financial’s process fast, but Jack also said the terms were simple and clear.

“It’s a one or two page sheet,” he said. “It tells you exactly what they are going to do, how many payments there are, and there’s no penalty for prepayment.”

Jack chose to use IOU’s daily withdrawal option to pay back his loan, and he plans to take advantage of not having prepayment penalties and pay off the cost of the festival once the proceeds are in.

With an easy experience from beginning to end, Jack said IOU is a go-to resource for business owners who are on tight time lines for their projects.

“It’s a very serious decision for someone to take out a large loan. When you’ve made the decision and you step over the line and take the loan, if you’re under a time constraint or anything like that, I would recommend IOU.”


Tips to Make Your Dental Office Remodel a Success

Being a dentist involves more than medical expertise – you also need to have business savvy when you’re faced with key decisions, such as when to invest in new equipment and remodel your office. A dental office remodel can be expensive and disruptive in the short term, but it can give your practice the technology and layout it needs to keep both your staff and customers happy. To make the most of your redesign, you’ll want to take into account the impacts of your timing and the overall design. dentist

Timing is Everything

An article in the professional journal Dental Economics gives some insights into which seasons make the most sense for major business changes like a remodel. The data suggests that May and September are the slowest months for dentistry, whereas business peaks in August, October, November and April. If you were planning to temporarily close your office in order to modernize and refurbish it, the early summer would impact the fewest patients.

Envisioning the Final Product

Wells Fargo bank published a thoughtful article about dental office trends that points out the importance of making the office look professional without appearing unapproachable. Two key design concepts stand out: using all of your office’s square footage to its fullest potential and sticking to classic design principles.

The article also suggests the following design guidelines:

  • Never let treatment zones be on public display.
  • Lay out your business area so the receptionist can easily swivel to greet patients and then swivel back away from them to take care of other tasks. This way, transactions and conversations with patients who are checking out can be kept private and separate from the waiting area.
  • Plan for a space where patients can discuss fees with your staff privately.
  • Break rooms and private offices should be isolated from the practice’s patient-activity areas.
  • All treatment rooms should have identical equipment and similar layouts to avoid staff having favorite rooms.
  • Make sure you budget for and lay out all the technology you need in the treatment areas for patient education, practice management, treatment co-diagnosis and even entertainment.
  • Leave some room for expansion over time.
  • Choose a classic, timeless color scheme. Reserve bold colors for walls and other paintable surfaces.
  • Use quality, durable finish materials for countertops and cabinetry. It might be a little more expensive up front but will last over the life of the current office design.
  • Work with your interior decorator to plan inexpensive seasonal updates so you can keep your décor fresh over the next 10 years.

Financing Your Project

A key component to project success is lining up the right kind of financing. A small business loan is from the right lender can mean the difference between staying on schedule or delays that impact your bottom line.  Online lenders like IOU Financial offer quick turnaround and flexibility that a traditional bank loan can’t match. Want to figure out your costs for financing your dental office remodel? Visit our loan calculator to learn about our financing and how to make sure you qualify for a loan.



Slow Season Gives Time for Expansion

Trinity Event Staffing was ready to take advantage of an expansion opportunity in another major market, but the slow summer season meant hiring staff would be a challenge. IOU Financial helped them add a sales and recruitment team member without stretching their financial resources too thin.

Justin Atkinson had 20 years of experience in the industry when he started Trinity Event Staffing, which specializes in providing party and event staff, including everything from bartenders to security services. Although he started in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, his successful business grew to cover all the major markets in the state, including Austin, College Station, and San Antonio. When it was time to enter the Houston market, he decided to do it with the help of a loan from IOU Financial.

Justin realized shortly after starting Trinity Event Staffing, that lending criteria of traditional banking posed obstacles for his business. Traditional loans often require extensive collateral, and since Justin’s event staffing agency didn’t have traditional collateral sources like real estate or large savings accounts, he knew it would be difficult.

“IOU Financial and non-traditional lending is the best way to go. You don’t have to tie up your other pieces of collateral in your growth,” he said.

Even though the company had been in business for over six years when Justin decided it was time to expand into Houston, he knew that alternative lending would be a faster, easier way to go. He ultimately was connected to IOU Financial through a broker.

“I really liked the service of IOU. The people weren’t pushy and just allowed me the time and the space to look at everything.”


While going through the loan process, what impressed Justin most was the patience and transparency of the staff at IOU. His contact was able to answer any questions about the loan terms, walked him through the IOU portal, and gave him time to contact his attorney to review details.

Once the paperwork was finalized, IOU Financial delivered his funds in about 24 hours. Justin immediately put that capital to work.


The $30,000 loan came at a critical time during the year for Trinity. Justin knew that in order to expand, he needed a new staff member to be on the front lines in Houston for sales and recruitment. But it was also the summer, a traditionally slow time for the event staffing industry that meant Trinity would likely encounter negative cash flow.

“Being a small to mid-size company, every piece of internal management or any internal labor you have is a big decision because you are adding an enormous piece of overhead into your business and you have to make sure you’re profitable.”

Justin used the loan to expand into Houston successfully without having to worry whether the additional overhead would jeopardize his business.


Flash forward to one year later, and Trinity Event Staffing has accomplished their goal. Their new sales and recruitment staff member is growing the company’s presence in Houston at a sustainable pace. The loan is almost paid back, and the IOU Financial system of daily payments rather than monthly ones kept things simple for Justin.“I think it’s smart and sustainable,” he said.

Justin considers alternative lenders like IOU Financial a key part of the American economy. He said through alternative lenders, small businesses are able to get the capital they need without putting up extensive collateral in a traditional loan, risking the “blood, sweat, and tears” entrepreneurs have invested in their businesses.

“IOU Financial and non-traditional lending are helping to keep the American dream alive. The traditional banking system is not responding.”

LOOKING TO REACH A NEW MARKET? An affordable working capital loan could give your business what it needs to grow. Call 866-217-8564, or visit to learn more.

Investing in Market Research Can Pay Off for Small Businesses

For small business owners, it can be easy to invest time and attention on day-to-day management activities, get stuck doing competitive analyses, and fail to stay focused on big-picture priorities that affect the bottom line.

Most business owners know the benefits of market research, yet it tends to fall further down the priority list. However, running a successful business means knowing your customers, competitors and your industry. Market research offers the opportunity to analyze vast amounts of data and glean valuable insights into these topics. This can help you make informed business decisions and identify sales opportunities.

Here are a few ways market research can help your small business thrive:


Trend Spotting 

Knowing consumer preferences and being ahead of industry trends can propel your small business into a new market or niche with an unmet demand. Likewise, knowing your customer needs and demographics will help you determine whether jumping on a trend is right for your business. Market research is also useful for testing ideas with your target market before rolling out new products or services.


Know Your Competition

One way to stay ahead of trends and know your industry inside and out is understanding your competition, and market research can help you do that. Not only can you discover the best practices your competitors are using and what’s working for them, you can also learn from their mistakes and gain deeper insight into what part of the market they aren’t serving or customer needs they aren’t meeting.


Informed Decision Making

With the knowledge of industry trends and the competitive advantages you’ve gathered using market research, you’ll be able to make better decisions when it comes to developing new products, launching into a new market, or reaching your target audience with marketing messages and other communications. In essence, you’ll be confident that you’re staying focused on the bottom line and real business growth rather than spinning your wheels.


Sold on the idea of investing time and energy into market research for your industry? Market research should be an ongoing activity for your small business, but it doesn’t have to drain your time or budget. To get started, decide whether you’ll conduct the research in-house or hire a third party. Whether you’re tackling it yourself or working with a professional services firm (recommended), get clarity around the framework for the kind of data you’d like to analyze, both from a customer and competitive perspective – things like strengths, weaknesses, offerings and mission. Next, make a comprehensive list of your direct and indirect customers. Make your research an ongoing process that you revisit quarterly, making adjustments as you go.

With market research you’ll understand your business in an entirely new way and gain fresh perspective on the issues that impact your growth.


CTA market research