Q: I am interested in starting an independent professional research business from home. What are the tools I will need to find potential clients?
— Ida H., Via the Internet
A: Starting a research business will allow you to serve both companies and individuals looking for specific information. The greatest challenge for this type of business is obtaining clients. In the beginning, expect to spend half your time doing research and the other half marketing your business.
Specializing in one or two fields is the key to success as an independent researcher. Find an area where you are knowledgeable and become proficient in researching that topic. Use your success in this specialty research as part of your marketing efforts.
Build your client base by making cold calls to local businesses you think might need your services. This will give you the opportunity to identify the research needs of prospective clients and advertise your specific skills. You can also reach potential customers by mailing brochures and arranging follow-up sales appointments.
The Association of Independent Information Professionals provides resources on starting a business, developing services, and marketing successfully. Go to www.aiip.org to learn more about this profession.
Until you’ve built up a significant client base, your research venture should be viewed as a part-time business that will serve as supplemental income.