As part of your business plan, and to get a better picture of the possibilities for selling your products or services in a local market, you will need to do some market research. Looking at a local market will give you information about the types of people who might buy your products or services, how far people will drive to get to your location, and what your competition is within that market.

Step One: Determining Your Market Area

Before you can do research on your local market, you will need to know the size of that market. The question to ask yourself is: “How far will people come to buy my products or services?” The answer depends on two factors:

(a) the type of product or service you are providing,

(b) the availability of other similar businesses providing that same product or service (in other words, competitors).

If you have a unique business with no competition, people who want your product/service will come from further away to get it. For example, if you are selling kitchen accessories and there is no other kitchen accessory store in the area, cooks will come from a distance to shop. If you are a dry cleaner, people probably won’t go very far to use your service, because there are many other dry cleaners in the area. The “rule of thumb” is typically how far people would go to a grocery store.