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Echo Business: Business Quiz: Industry experts answer your questions.

I RUN a small consultancy business which provides advice and training to SMEs on Merseyside. We have a growing customer base but I feel that we could be offering a wider range of services and targeting a broader market.

Is it an expensive and time consuming process to get into market research? DB, Wirral

PROFESSIONALLY executed market research is a good way to obtain factual and realistic data about your customers and potential customers.

Without it you could waste time and money on marketing activity that targets the wrong audience.

A good market research company will work closely with you to establish what you need to find out about your marketplace.

Costs and reliability depend on the methods used and the size of the sample, ie the number of people you target or include in your survey. If the research is done properly you will find that you have immensely valuable findings which will allow you to improve the quality and range of services you deliver, target customers better and give you an edge on your competitors.

There may also be benefits to you in terms of PR. If the findings show, for example, your company excels in a particular area or there is something interesting and newsworthy in trends identified among your SME client base you may be able to generate some publicity.

Geraldine McEntegart, director of marketing, Merseyside Special Investment FundI AM 18 and left school last year but despite having a good qualification in IT I have been out of work for the past few months.

During this time I have used my time to develop a piece of software for businesses which I think has huge potential. I need around pounds 2,000 to develop it further and also advice on how to run a business. Who can I approach for help?

AS, Liverpool YOU should contact the Princes Trust. This organisation offers advice, support and funding t o young people who have a good business idea and need help getting it off the ground. You must be aged between 18 and 30 and either unemployed or work less than 16 hours per week. As you are 18 and are not working you are eligible to apply.

The trust can offer a low interest rate loan of up to pounds 4,000 for a sole trader or even a grant of up to pounds 1,500 in special circumstances. It also offers a range of business support services including a free legal helpline and business advice from voluntary mentors as well as access to a wide range of products and services, free or discounted.

For more information visit the website www.princes-trust.org.uk or ring 01282 714161 Chris Walters, investment manager, Merseyside Special Investment Fund These answers are of a general nature and you are strongly advised t o seek professional help relating to specific inquiries
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2005
Words:481
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