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How do I determine if my product/service will sell? Do I need to hire someone else to do my market research?

Answer: 

There is no easy answer to this question. Generally speaking, there are many low-cost or free resources that can assist you in your market research. For example, many public libraries have Info-Connect services that can provide valuable information. The Department of Commerce has census data available. You can certainly conduct their own market surveys -- both written and verbal (by telephone or mail). You must understand your competition (their strengths and weaknesses and how their business stacks up); you must understand what your business's "added value" is -- what positively distinguishes your product or service from your competition's. You may conduct your own informal focus groups to determine if there is a demand for your product or service and/or contact the association(s) under which your product or service falls for information on markets (many associations have departments that collect market data on an ongoing basis). You may even choose to hire an outside market research firm, but in many cases, this is not necessary.