Dear M&M: What’s one of the first things I should do before starting any business? — Jan

Dear Jan: Conducting research in your market to see if people are ready, willing and able to buy continues to be one of the top things to do. In addition, one should see who else is doing it in your market? How many people are there, and can you make any money servicing the amount of people available? What will your competition do if you enter the market and start competing with existing sellers? Can they outspend you in advertising? Do they have the backing to lower their prices so you can’t compete? Do they have a better location? What can you do to be the better mouse trap? Besides looking at who is already in your market, how hard will it be for someone else to open and do business?

Let’s look down the road. Is there a new process or new product that can solve your customer’s problem better than what you are trying to sell? Disrupting technologies are happening all the time. Don’t forget substitute products. I have an electric car. I don’t need gas. I don’t see many charging stations around. Maybe, I can find something in that space and sell them something while their cars are charging.

Don’t forget the 4 P’s (Product, Place, Price and Promotion). Thoroughly check out each of the 4 P’s and know who besides you are already doing it (Product)? Where are they doing it (Place)? How much are they doing it for (Price)? Finally, who are they promoting it to and through what channels are they communicating through to let people know (Promotion)? Market research always rises to the top. Do people need it? Who else is already doing it? Can you do it better?

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at (520) 458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.