When you are choosing a type of business to start or looking at expanding your business, primary research is a critical step, explained Kari O'Neill, South Dakota State University Extension Community Development Field Specialist.

"This is taking a magnifying-glass-view of what is currently happening within the industry you've chosen," O'Neill said.

O'Neill added that today conducting primary research is easier than ever thanks to the internet. "The Internet is a wealth of information from many different sources and angles, to give you that perspective."

New publication is a credible resource

The iGrow publication, "Internet Market Research & Analysis Tools" gives entrepreneurs several options for credible information sources of state, national and even local data.

When visiting this link, O'Neill reminded visitors that the link to U.S. Census data assumes they have taken SDSU Extension's Small Business Beginnings class. Even if you haven't taken the class feel free to click on the "Guided Search" tab, check the box that takes a look at businesses and industries, and this will enable you to check out a variety of business aspects for a particular industry.

"The possibilities of searching may seem overwhelming, but once you've narrowed down the product or service you want to provide, you can find out how many other providers there are in your area, and get other information that can help with your decisions," O'Neill said.

In South Dakota, especially in lower-population areas, O'Neill said industry information might not be as readily available and may require offline research.

"Primary research may take more legwork to find out exactly what is available or possible," she said.

If this is the case, some resources to contact would be City Administrators, local Chamber of Commerce or other Business/Economic Development groups.

"In small towns, word of mouth can open doors, and lead you to people and places that can be great local resources," O'Neill said.

Whatever resources selected for the feasibility study, O'Neill said to make this a page or two in your business plan.

"Describe what you learned and how it helped you make your decision. Lenders will require this, and it's really a benefit for you in moving your business idea forward," she said.