Business Plans 3: Researching Your Market

Researching market potential is essential for business success. Many people have ideas for products and services that they think are fantastic. They spend thousands, set up a business and then lose it all because the market is not interested in what they are offering.

When it comes to researching a market, their are generally three areas you want to research:

  1. Clients and Customers
  2. Competitors
  3. Market Innovations and Niches.
Clients and Customers
Clients and customers are the people that will put money in your product. This depth of this topic is too long for this post, except to say that you must determine your market attributes and find out both their demand driver and your value proposition for them.

Competitors need to be researched and analysed for innovations that can provide you with a competitive advantage. Research your five major competitors, and find out what it is about them that makes a customer decide to purchase their product/service. Also look for market opportunities and gaps.
Market Innovations and Niches
Finding spaces in the market that are not currently filled by other businesses that potentially can be capitalised upon are essential for business growth. Research is essential in this category to sustain a competitive advantage.

How to Stop Smoking!

Smoking is an addictive habit that kills many people every year. As a person who used to smoke, I can understand the struggle of trying to quit. Therefore, I determined I would write an article on how to quit smoking based on my experiences.

You are not Quitting Smoking!

My brother who is in his mid 30's and had been a smoker for over 20 years told me this trick during a few of his stints at stopping smoking. When you tell yourself you are quitting smoking your mind resists as it feels that 'quitting' is giving up and losing something you want to have. Rather than 'quitting' smoking, tell yourself that you are 'stopping' smoking. You have a choice and you have made the decision to stop something that is not beneficial to your life. STOP SMOKING, DON'T QUIT!

Focus on The Positives

You need a benefit to stop smoking, rather than all the negatives of continuing smoking. I have said for the last five years that if the government really wants people to stop they would advertise people explaining the benefits of kicking their habit (I.e.: increased health, more money in the bank, etc.) as opposed to showing blood clots and the like. If you want to see the benefits just go to and see some of the benefits the quitline for Australia has put together. Use these as motivators for your continued success.

It's Just a Fad!

One thing that gets a lot of young smokers is the pressure put on them by others to stop. I was once told a story by a tradie mate of mine that got him to stop smoking. He was talking to a guy at his work years ago and the guy said' Ah, smoking is just a fad! Almost everyone has done it and you grow out of it!'. He said this comment alone took the pressure off and he knew he could stop. I too found this a useful thought to remember at various stages.

Designate a smoke-free area
Having a place where you cant smoke will really help you when you want to smoke. I found having my new car as a non-smoking area worked for a period of time. If I felt the urge to smoke, I could go to my smoke-free area and wait until the urges had disappeared.

Don't be too hard on yourself
When you stop, you may have to stop a few times (as you will be likely to get back on the horse at times even when you shouldn't). Don't be too hard on yourself if you take up smoking again, but rather focus on saying no to people who try to convince you to go back to your old ways and work on increasing the time between cigarettes.
Take up a positive habit
I found when I stopped smoking I began running on a treadmill and doing gym the very next day. This helped me to focus on improving my health and getting fit, while also increasing my desire to stop smoking as I could not go anywhere near as hard on a treadmill with a deficient lung capacity and ability. Even walking increases the blood flow through your body and helps you to intake more fresh air.
Minimise time with smoking friends
I have left this one last as I find it one of the hardest but one of the most vital to your success once you begin to stop smoking. If you are around something long enough you are more likely to embrace it, and you will often find friends who will generously offer you cigarettes. While they might seem as though they are being generous they are really trying to prevent you from progressing away from your habit and are trying to keep you at their level. I personally find I am more inclined to take smoking back up when I am out with smokers and am getting offered them, especially if I have had a bad day or have had a series of issues happening in my life. If you are really committed to your success, find friends who don't smoke and socialise with them more often, and when you do socialise with smokers, take someone with you to keep you on track. If I had applied this one technique more often I would have stopped smoking much earlier and for a much longer period of time.

I wish you the best of success in stopping smoking and living a more fulfilling life with the extra health, wealth, time and happiness that such a positive choice will bring in your life!

Lessons from 2008

Reflecting on 2008, I have noticed that I have learned a few skills which I believe are important:
  1. Have the courage to challenge your beliefs and opinions: Don't make assumptions based on what you know or have been brought up to believe is correct. Always have an open mind and listen to the opinions of others, but do not necessarily embrace all concepts.
  2. Have patience in looking for what you want: Rome wasn't built in a day, and your life will not be either. Take time researching and preparing for the job/career you want and enjoy the journey. I spent a lot of time this year unemployed because I was not prepared to compromise on my goal of obtaining a position that would provide me with the experience I desired. You shouldn't either.
  3. Consistently save a portion of your income: I have known and practiced this on and off for years, but it still remains vital to success. Try and save at least 10% of your income for long-term investing, whether it be in property, shares, businesses or a combination thereof.
  4. Be honest when you are wrong, and quickly work to resolve any situation: Whether in a heated debate with a friend or a mistake you have made at work; accept responsibility and sort out the issue. Take action and show you have tried to resolve problems with integrity and you will go a long way.
  5. Ensure a healthy balance between mental, physical and spiritual aspects of life: Having a balance is essential to ensuring that you live a happy and satisfied life.
  6. If at first you don't succeed, try again: This is especially true for me as an ex-smoker. A few times throughout the year I have picked up smoking again but I always continue to try and quit by putting it down again. This allowed me to not smoke for eight months overall last year, and I will be aiming higher this year. Persistence is the key to conquering bad habits.
  7. Diligently Plan: Planning weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. will help you to move a lot faster towards your destination. By having goals and plans, you are more likely to achieve you aims than you would without them.
  8. Have fun: Life is too short to be serious all the time. Let your hair down every now and then and try to smile and laugh everyday.
Well that's it for now. I hope you enjoyed 2008 and learned lessons from it and are now moving forward into an even better 2009!