Starting a new business can be exciting and daunting all at the same time.  There are many ‘big’ strategic questions to solve first that will require research.

As part of the startup process, you should consider:

  • Relevant competitors: brands, quality, distribution, pricing
  • The industry and the market’s response to it
  • Ideal customer segments and how to find them

….and more

Crafting your business concept and business plan with market data before you dive into your new business will help you get off the ground informed and prepared.

 Research can help reduce the chances that you missed important details that can set you back or add unnecessary risk for growth.

The library

Start your market investigation at the library!  

The Chester County Library has long supported small business owners and entrepreneurs by providing access to top-notch, authoritative information needed to help them succeed.

Most of the Chester County Library’s business resources can be accessed from home with a free Library card through the online Business and Career Center.

Sam Bardarik, Business and Career Librarian and SCORE Volunteer, helps her clients find targeted resources for their specific needs.

She meets with clients one-on-one to explain the databases, review catalogs and other resources that are important to the clients’ research objectives.

Owners and entrepreneurs are often surprised by the breadth and usefulness of the resources we offer,” says Bardarik.

The Library offers business and technical skill-building opportunities, often in conjunction with community partners like SCORE, to support business planning, social media, marketing, financial stability and more.

View Sam’s recorded webinar here: –

Customers and Competitors: Getting the Inside Data.

Click youtube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWjgB7r91eY&t=10s

The Role of Market Research

Business owners want to deeply understand the competitive environment and target customers prior to making costly, significant product or service decisions. 

Data-based choices are key to the development of business, marketing and operational strategies before the official launch.

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) is the No. 1 resource used to identify demographics and spending habits of key customers, build competitive profiles, inform marketing strategies, and determine ideal neighborhoods and locations to open a new business.

“It’s a massive database that can focus down to the street level,” Bardarik explains. Reference Solutions compiles all that information into easy-to-interpret charts, tables, and graphs which can be incorporated into an entrepreneur’s business plan.

Other databases, like Statista and Gale Business Insights: Essentials, provide powerful search capabilities and are easy to use.  Users can spend less time hunting for answers to their questions and more time on their market analysis and action plans.

References and Training

The assistance for business plans doesn’t stop there. The Library’s collection includes step-by-step guidebooks such as the online Business Plans Handbook for writing comprehensive, informed business plans. The series contains real-world examples to assist clients as they organize and write their own plans.

Also available online is the Cisco Networking Academy, a portal hosting free, self-paced courses. Clients can sign up for training to learn business and financial skills and understand attitudes and behaviors needed to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

Other courses cover cybersecurity skills and related programming languages such as Python and Linux.

For nonprofit leaders, the Chester County Library provides visitors with free public access to grant maker directories and grant funders with the Funding Information Network, an international network of libraries, community foundations, and other nonprofit agencies.

The Library orders books, e-books, and audiobooks on all critical small business topics. Print books and audiobooks can be placed on hold for pickup at any Chester County Library location.

Print and digital magazines can be borrowed or accessed with The Flipster app.  All the best titles are available: Bloomberg Businessweek, Fortune, Harvard Business ReviewInc., and Wall Street JournalFast Company, Forbes, Kiplinger’s and Money.

Library mission

The mission of the Chester County and Henrietta Hankin Branch Libraries is to provide informational, educational, and cultural services to the residents of Chester County so that they may be lifelong learners. The Chester County Library & District Center is located at 450 Exton Square Parkway, Exton, PA. For hours or more information, visit their website.

Most of the Chester County Library’s business resources can be accessed from home with a free Library card through the online Business and Career Center. Stay in touch with Business Center updates on LinkedIn or by signing up for the Business Bulletin newsletter.

For those with a Delaware County Libraries card, business eResources including Data Axle Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) can be accessed here.

SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties is proud to partner with the Chester County Library system, where many local SCORE business workshops were held in-person prior to COVID and are now hosted virtually. Popular topics such as How to Start and Operate a Small Business, Customers and Competitors: Getting the Inside Data and business planning have been featured year after year.  

SCORE: To Make Wise Business Decisions: Research Is Key