START YOUR BUSINESS: Analyse your market & environment

Starting a business for the first time is exciting and scaring all at once. To help you assess properly your business environment, we’ve written and compiled a checklist of key steps.

To support you and your future business in the important process of starting a business, our team of experts have developed this series of articles.

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Coming soon:

  • How to write a proper business plan (with template)
  • Prepare and work on your cash flow forecast (with template)
  • and more to come!



Even before starting to review your future business environment, you should ask yourself the right questions regarding your characteristics and determination to start such an adventure.

Such characteristics can be organized as follows*:

  1. Are you driven by a strong entrepreneurial spirit – passion, determination and persistence?
  2. Do you already have strong skills and experience in the relevant sector?
  3. Have you identified an opportunity in your target market that is not currently being exploited?
  4. Have you made market research to properly assess this opportunity?
  5. Do you have enough savings to cover your expenses during the early stage of your business development?
  6. Do you have a supportive network of experienced business people to talk to?
  7. Do you have any “digital knowledge” to properly scale your business?
  8. Can you easily convince others your business idea is good?

*this is not an exhaustive list – not corresponding to one or more of these characteristics does not necessarily means you are not “qualified” to be a successful entrepreneur.


Before starting your business you need to know how large your target market is.
To do so, an accurate market research is the best way to find out. Market research requires you to gather valuable and thorough information about the environment your business operates in. Thanks to a proper market analysis, you will be able to take informed and solid decision-making, while reducing the risks of failure (for example, if you’ve got a business idea, you can use research to estimate your potential market share and target segments and thus avoid over spending).

How should you start your market research?

  • A handful of existing data is available through libraries, directories or industry bodies.
  • You can also contact the various government business resources or your local SME Center, as well as the various Chambers of Commerce available in Laos: ECCILAUSTCHAMLNCCI, etc.
  • To get a wider view of the macro-economics trends potentially impacting your business, many reports form the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, an other non governmental bodies are available.

The importance of gathering general market intelligence:
Informal market research is as important as the formal one! To gather valuable information about your customer level of satisfaction and the overall efficiency of your business, you should talk to staff and customers, regularly check out competitors and see what’s new in your competitors offers.

Your market findings have to be included into your SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), when developing your marketing and business plan. Click on the link below to download and start filling your SWOT Template.


Knowing your main competitors is essential if you to succeed in your business project.
Indeed it will help you differentiate and define your value proposition, as well as driving a proper commercial strategy to help customers choose your business over someone’s else (for example, if you plan on starting up a café, your main competitors would probably be other cafés and small restaurants in similar locations).

When analyzing your competitors, consider the following:

  1. Who are your core competitors?
  2. What is their main value delivered to customers?
  3. Where are they located?
  4. What marketing and pricing strategies do they use?
  5. How do they communicate with their customers?
  6. Do they have a strong online impact?

This competitor data is to be included into your SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), when developing your marketing and business plan.



To properly serve your customers, you first need to know them, their aspiration, and needs. To do so here are two suggestions to get to know them better and start building long term relationship:

5 Ws:

Base your analysis around basic questions. Use the 5 Ws (what, why, when, why and where), which are questions whose answers are considered basic in research.

Focus Group:

Organize focus group with your customers to discuss about specific topics.  Focus group methods permit alternative ways of obtaining information, mostly qualitative.


Identifying and understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, this what a SWOT Analysis is for.
A SWOT analysis is used to help adapt your business strategy to its environment by examining internal and external factors.
It is a great way to explore potential solutions, identify potential barriers, choose an effective strategy, or revise an existing strategy.

To properly execute your SWOT Analysis, think about how you can maximize strengths and opportunities, while reducing threats and weaknesses.