Starting a Business? Do Your Competitive Research Online

Starting a new business? Know your competition, experts say, and start sooner rather than later.
For a start, you should begin a search for company information in order to learn about businesses already doing what you want to do. Indeed, one of the things many start-ups forget about is Competitive Intelligence, or CI.
CI can be as simple or advanced as you want to make it, from knowing who your competition is and understanding who the key players are at each, to (more advanced) knowing a competitor’s general financial situation and their individual specialties, which can help you understand how you might compete against them. The more you know about the competition, the more able you are to asses where openings in the market might be and how to take advantage of those openings.
While CI has been big in places like the United States for years, many UK businesses are just beginning to avail themselves of this practice, which is an established field that abides by ethical codes of conduct. In fact, many start-ups entrusted with seed money from venture capitalists, or from friends and family, see it as their moral obligation to understand the market they are entering into as thoroughly as possible, and this includes understanding the competition.
But where do you begin to search for this information? Certainly some research on Google will turn up bits and pieces of information, but there are now full-fledged CI services in the UK, such as, that allow you to search for company information online, and even set-up on-going searches that will track your key competitors and provide you with updates via email on their financial or leadership changes. As required by UK law, businesses must release certain information to the public in order to remain in compliance and keep their legal status to operate. This is intended to protect the public, and is in the interest of transparency and freedom of information, but it is also a requirement that also allows conscientious businesses to collect information on their competitors in order to better compete with them.
ItÂ’s then easy to see how, as you start building your marketing plan and make preparations to start your business, the search for information about competitors is essential and will put you on the right track from the very first day of business.