If you've been in business for awhile perhaps research isn't "AS" important but when your a new business owner having the facts and details can mean a lot. The first step any knowledgable entreprenuer will tell you is a business plan. When you create this plan, you should research your competition and ask the questions. How much are they earning/charging? How many clients per year do they service? and so on... After gaining an understanding of what your up against (assuming you choose to move forward or already past this point) you need to understand your area. What is unemployment like here?, Are people sticking around here or packing up shop and moving somewhere else? Whats the prominent age group here? Lastly plan a solid online strategy. Understanding how your customers will find you online will help you determine where to market your product or service. If your advertising online in a cut rate town on craigslist it can be like trying to sell ice to an eskimo - which will lead to you taking lower profits, and lower sales. For all those interested there is a great, free online tool that gives you all the answers I discussed easily at marketrolemodel.com - check it out and make smarter, more informed decisions.