Market research is key to fully vetting a new business idea. What are some of the best options that are still budget-conscious?

We asked several small business experts, so we could find out.

We’ll be discussing this topic, and other about creating a profitable business, in our fireside chat via Google Hangout on February 10. Don’t forget to RSVP!

One of the best ways is to conduct your own survey with friends, colleagues and family members. It may not be easy to gather enough of a diverse pool but when dealing with small business startups, your circle of influence may have a lot to contribute in terms of insights that may help steer the venture in the right direction.

Catherine Delcin, Attorney at Delcin Consulting Group

Don't underestimate the power of using Google Scholar (a free search engine for scholarly articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, universities, and web sites).

Talking to people notable in the industry you are considering to enter is free and effective. A talk with the right person can reveal companies who failed to solve the problem previously, companies working on a solution similar to yours and insights into the market needs.

You can also offer to buy coffee for people standing in line at Starbucks in exchange for them answering your questions and giving their opinions on your business idea.

Danielle Tate, Founder and CEO at Blueblird

The most obvious and also most important is to establish a connection to what you believe is your target market and immerse yourself in it. You want to know everything about them and get their feedback as you develop your idea in small steps, rather than waiting until the end. The process of inviting your market to beta test your product or service is a great way to make them part of the process. Ultimately, you want to learn whether your idea is something they want and need. If not, go back to the drawing board and try something different or pursue another idea until one finally 'validates.' These techniques cost almost nothing and if the iterations are broken down into manageable steps, can go a long way to limiting risk.

Daryl Gibson, Founder at Innovative X

What are some of the best, yet budget-conscious, ways to conduct market research to vet the business idea? Simply talking to people is not only free, it’s also critical to success. We do a lot of data-driven research (reading papers, searching the Internet for statistics, analyzing reports), but gaining input from potential customers and other stakeholders is where the magic happens. Do it early, do it often, do it intentionally. The ability to receive and incorporate that feedback is the difference between creating a product you THINK people need and one that you KNOW they actually want.

Brenda Edin and Michael Baker, Co-Partners at Due North Innovation