Contributing Author: Naeem Zafar Market research is an essential process for every new business, but many entrepreneurs do it too late. They wait until after quitting their job and starting a company, when they are already spending money rapidly. Smart entrepreneurs, on the other hand, do the bulk of their market research while they are still shaping their ideas, when they most likely still have other sources of income. I suggest that you do the latter! The specific steps I explain below will make doing this easier. You need to spend some time discovering your market before you embark on this long journey. Why? Two reasons - one, to maximize the odds of your success; and two, to minimize the toll the process can take on your finances and relationships. Market discovery consists of five main elements, I refer to as the "Five Questions All Entrepreneurs Must Answer Before Starting a Business": Do you fulfill an unmet need, or do you have a solution looking for a problem? Who most acutely experiences this unmet need? (This question addresses market segmentation). How many people occupy this particular market? (This question addresses market size). Who else is trying to fill this need, and how will you be different from them in your customer's eyes? (This question addresses your competitive positioning in the marketplace). How will you make money? (This question addresses your business model). If you can answers these questions, you will have found the kind of knowledge that separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest. You will be equipped with a profound understanding of the dynamics of your market and your customers! I published a new eBook that walks you through step by step on exactly how to conduct this market research. Check out Market Research on a Shoestring! Get a reality check on your big idea by spending less than $100 on market research.