Find out what information already exists
There are two types of data; primary and secondary. Existing information (for example census statistics) is known as secondary data and primary is the collection of new data.
Secondary data research
You can save time and money by using secondary data. Much of the information you need can be found in internal company records or official sources. Information collected on a day-to-day basis can help you identify trends such as popular products or the seasonality of product/service demand. Other secondary information falls into two areas:
This includes information gathered and published by federal, state and local government agencies.
The largest source of official research in Australia is the Bureau of Statistics . The Bureau of Statistics collects a wide range of data at a national and local level. This includes census data, trade and industry data, demographic statistics down to a suburb level and changes in social trends
This covers data which can be obtained from sources such as the internet, newspapers, magazines, reference books, trade directories, trade associations, banks, universities, technical colleges, research institutions and publications from market research organisations.
The State Library has a specialist small business resource centre which provides access to industry information and a range of Australian databases.
Other sources of secondary research include:
- Post Office
- local libraries
- Book of Lists
- Small Business Centre
- industry associations
- IBIS World (available at the Business Licence and Information Centre)
Primary data research
Primary data is the information you gather through specialised surveys or group discussions. Generating primary data can be costly and potentially more risky than the collection and collation of secondary data. To make sure your research is effective take time to define your objectives and understand the problem you are researching.
For example, you may want to find out why sales are down five per cent, and proceed to conduct interviews to determine the fault in your own performance, unaware that the real problem is a shrinking market, which in many cases, may provide an opportunity to maintain or improve your market share.
To overcome this problem you could examine the secondary data to discover that your falling sales are a reflection of a declining market share. You could then research to find out if it is a general decline throughout the industry or an isolated decline in relation to a certain product or service.
This information can be obtained by conducting a survey designed by an unbiased professional.