Small businesses need walking Geiger counters as bosses, people who are their own market researchers, smelling, sensing and hearing the sound of the market. Simon Marks of M&S used to tour the stores on a Saturday listening to the sound of the tills. Steve Jobs used to go on his hands and knees in car parks examining Mercedes and BMW fenders.

Shops, high streets and trade shows

Walk high streets and shopping centres – get a feel for what’s going on. Go to trade shows and when you’ve researched where’s best and worked out how to operate there, show at one. As an exhibitor said recently, ‘Big distributors go to these events in a buying mood, ...

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