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Research is only as good as the person doing It

Our panel of entrepreneurs responds …Focused research

ChatSpace powers focused, online communities that interact via chat, message boards and e-mail. When we began, we relied heavily on third-party research about needs and behaviors. However, this data was collected mostly about large-scale communities and did not “scale well” into our more focused groups. While some of the research was valuable, it came at a cost of missed opportunity in truly connecting with our target audience. As we have grown, we have come to rely much more heavily on our own primary research, and our product focus and customer satisfaction have improved measurably. — Eric Olinger, President,ChatSpace Inc.

No limits

I like to “get lost” in my research and just “float through it.” By not setting limits on what I’m going to look at or expect to learn as a result of this research, I have freedom to truly explore the wealth of possibilities and business opportunities that may just “pop up.” I accept that this approach is inefficient and not easily financially justifiable, but being the CEO and primary shareholder, I have a relatively high success rate with getting this accomplished. Also, my company cannot afford to have many people dedicated to research. My department managers must live in the world of applied results. Yet I concurrently need to plug my brain into the “ether” if I’m to provide true guidance to the future of my company. — John Weiss Jr., CEO, The Audit Group

Time well spent

Imagine that you had to assemble a puzzle with a ton of pieces, blindfolded. The pieces are small, but the success of your business depends upon each of them. Now, if the blindfold was so elaborately wrapped around your head that it took 15 minutes to remove, you might be annoyed. But if taking extra time and effort would cement your company’s success, you’d do it. Often we are so anxious to complete a project that we miss the point entirely. A week of good research and planning can save a month of wasted effort. — Marley Majcher, CEO,The Party Goddess

Plan it

One of my company’s targets is to provide “e-learning” training solutions. We believe work should follow a “PDCA” cycle — Plan-Do-Check-Act. I think that entrepreneurs frequently spend the majority of our resources on “just do it,” when we really need to concentrate on “plan it.” A better statement might be, “Research is only as good as the person doing it and the process you use!” Establish a good plan, do it on a small scale, check the results, and only when you’re sure that you are truly answering the questions, should you act to complete the research. —Rob Stewart, President, The Quality Group

Do your own research

Outside research should never be used to validate a market or product understanding. Entrepreneurs are best served doing research themselves that will either widen their understanding of parallel or secondary markets or create new understanding of changes (such as technology), which they may transfer into their core operations. Small-business research conducted for the leader of the firm usually ends up generating voluminous amounts of information for a person who usually has only a few hours to digest it, and research firms fail to see the strange nuances of opportunity that entrepreneurs intrinsically are able to identify and exploit. — Stephen Spoonamore, CEO, CBT Productions

This column is one in a series that invites contemporary entrepreneurs to agree, disagree and generally reflect on some of the beliefs of Edward Lowe, an entrepreneur who “brought the cat indoors” with a revolutionary cat-box filler, Kitty Litter, and created an entirely new industry. Even after his death, Ed Lowe’s unadorned advice continues to stimulate dialogue among other successful entrepreneurs. Here’s what some of your peers have to say.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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