March 2022 Economic Development Update:
So, you want to start your own business. You’ve done some soul-searching and determined a big idea for your start-up. It’s something you’re good at and something you enjoy. Great. What’s next?
“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” Zora Neale Hurston, American Anthropologist
Research is an often overlooked but critical step. That curiosity, poking, and prying will validate your business idea, helping you plan a successful business launch while minimizing risk. That’s a purpose worth investing some time in.
Look for business gaps. To determine what businesses already exist in the region, start by reviewing the Sunrise Corner business directory. If there are no listings in a category, you may have found a niche that needs filling. Also check out local social media posts. Lately, there have been online requests for skate sharpening, podiatrist, house mover, and furnace repair that may be gaps in our region.
Investigate the competition. Learn everything you can about other companies offering your big idea in our extended trade area. Investigate both direct and indirect businesses – if you’re thinking of a restaurant, look at restaurants but also food trucks and caterers. You’ll want to know their strengths and weaknesses related to products, quality, service, selection, pricing, distribution, and how they market themselves. If you don’t feel you can compete with other restaurants in the area, maybe you launch a mobile food truck with Mexican cuisine. There is always room for a new business, you just have to differentiate yourself.
Consult the zoning bylaw. Each RM’s zoning bylaw clarifies the rules of where different types of businesses may operate – permitted uses are allowed, conditional uses need to go to a public hearing and be approved by Council, non-permitted uses would not be allowed. For example, if you want to build a scrap metal shredding business, that would not be permitted at your property within a townsite due to the noise level. Zoning bylaws help ensure orderly and well-planned development for everyone.
Research regulations. Your business may be subject to regulations governing the industry you are entering. For instance, a food service business must have safe food handling licensing and an ATV rental company needs specific insurance coverage. You’ll want to understand all the regulations and build those costs into your pricing model.
Conducting market research includes researching online, like the activities above. You could also conduct surveys or hold focus groups to speak directly with potential customers. The further you dive into research, the more you will learn about how your business will serve the market and the business model that will best suit your development and growth.
No matter what stage your business is at, I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to discuss some ideas or get help narrowing down the options, feel free to reach out.