Dear Design Doctor
Myself and two other designers have joined forces and are currently in the process of writing a new business plan for our interior textile company, which we aim to launch next Spring.
We are unsure about where we can find market research figure to analyse, as MTW, global business insights, Ibis and Mintel are out of our price range. Where do you suggest we can find specific key numbers on competitors’ sales, growth, their market share, figures on general sector growth etc?
We believe the business is categorised as- ‘Household Textile and Soft Furnishings Market – high end quality and design.
Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Patricia van den Akker, the Director of The Design Trust, answers this real life question:
‘The easiest and cheapest way to get the info you are looking for can be found and accessed for free in the British Library, or the City Business Library in Central London. You need to become a member (I think it’s free for both but check the details on their website as you need to bring proof of address) and then you can research most of the Mintel reports at the library.
The British Library have got places outside of London too, if you are not living in London. And sometimes you can access the info too through university libraries, so check locally too.
However, I don’t think this is the right kind of market research that you need to do for your business plan.
Are you writing a business plan to get funding or finance and therefore to ‘convince’ them of your commercial potential?
Or is it more to agree with your business partners what you want to do, and to be able to forecast and have realistic expectations?
In either case you will need more practical information than what statistics can give you.
Although ‘conventional’ business planning often suggest these type of reports and growth information, they aren’t that relevant to you as a micro business. In my experience of over a decade as a business adviser for creative businesses I have seen many business plans, and to be honest most statistical market research data is irrelevant as your business is too small and too niche to find any relevant data for.
I fairly often see business plans where people state that they will ‘get 1% of the market share’.
That is a fairly useless target as it is impossible to define your market share, and it shows that you are inexperienced, so I would suggest you don’t use statements like that in your business plan. It’s better and more practical to say something like ‘we are aiming at a turnover of £45K in year 2, and £60K in year 3’.
You can find out your competitor’s turnover if they are a limited company by checking their records at Company’s House. (You might need to pay a small fee for this).
But ensure that you compare like with like.
For example you as a new business with 3 partners can’t be compared against an established business that has been trading for 20 odd years and with 25 employees. It’s very difficult to get any sensible business or market growth info out of information like that, and I would stay on the cautious site of 5 – 10% growth year on year.
Far more useful here would be your own financial budget forecast for the next 2 years or so, with well researched expenditure and income. That information is easier to find, more practical for your own planning and more reliable.
If you want to find out how to forecast your sales for your business plan then click here.
What you need to do is focus a lot more on practical market research, in particular your direct competitors.
The info that I think you need is this:
- identify 6 – 10 of your closest competitors and find out what they sell (products and services), where they sell and who their specific clients are, how they sell (e.g. which trade shows, online) and their price levels
- identify what they are very good at (their strenghts), and what makes you better than the competition.
Check out this blog post on market research.
I hope this helps for now. All the best with your venture.’
Did you find this blog post useful? Feel free to recommend it to others, or ‘like’ it or tweet about it. If you have any questions or additional recommendations, then let us know in the comments box below: