The importance of industry and market research for your business plan with Howard Rosen, CEO of Lifewire
I first published this blog post on the MEIC blog, January 30th, 2014
The challenge for any business is to collect the large amounts of research and then be able to condense it into an impressive (but brief!) twenty-five-page business plan. Howard Rosen, the CEO of Lifewire, says that the plan needs to be succinct yet comprehensive and match what you are saying. If it isn’t, the listener will wonder why you don’t just get to the point and “get to the meat” of your business.
The “meat” of course comes from all the research you have done previously. In this two-part video, Howard discusses the importance of collecting research and validating it.
For Howard, it always came down to the basic question “does it work?” He knew he had an excellent idea for mobile health, but the more he talked to people the more he realized “I better make sure this thing works!” People were always asking him to show them the product, to prove it to them, and to match what he was saying by what he was showing them. Research helped him prove his product and prepare to present it in his business plan and to his customers.
Research, Research, Research
The importance of research is to test your idea, to see if and how it works in the real world—not just in your head. Is your idea really that brilliant? You might think it’s an excellent idea, until your research shows that you are wrong. Discovering that your idea might be conflicting with your research is a good thing: it means something has to be changed.
Part of Howard’s research process was to reach out to 3rd parties to help him validate his assumptions about his product. One of the key elements of planning is using 3rd parties that can help you confirm your assumptions and give you direction on how to proceed with your product.
Key Elements to Planning: 3rd Party Validation
The validation of your idea gives decision makers such as funding bodies a reason to choose you instead of your competitor.
Getting Out There
In the “Knowing Your Market” video, Howard stresses the need to not only know your industry’s market from reports, but also go out to your market’s environment. For him, he went to hospitals, doctor offices, and any place that provided health care. You need to see how your market perceives your industry and its services and to delve deeper into your customers’ true needs. Howard says, “Just because someone says they need something, doesn’t actually mean they need [it], that’s what they perceive they need.” By going into these markets, you test those perceived needs and compared them to the real needs.
Getting out there and testing your product gives you an excellent opportunity to see what changes you need to make. What you think is simple to do, the user might find confusing and difficult. “Knowing how to evolve [your product] for the marketplace and [for] the changing marketplace” becomes an ongoing process in your product development.
It never really ends
Research never really ends. Even when the business plan is written, research continues as you build upon all the knowledge you have accumulated over time. For any new market you enter, a new business plan has to be created, researched, and validated.
Part 1 – Writing out your business plan
Part 2 – Knowing your Market