Invest NI has launched a new pilot Business Information Service at Timber Quay in Derry. CHRISTINE CASEY says it's a fantastic resource and we must use it or use it.

Do you fancy yourself as the next  Zuckerberg, Musk, Mary McKenna or Branson? What about your son, daughter, cousin or neighbour?

Two thirds of the top 50 billionaires weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth - they were self made.

How did they do it? Every last one obtained access to great information which they acted upon. There is a wealth of untapped entrepreneurial potential in the North West, it just needs unlocked together with confidence.

Invest NI has launched a pilot of the Business Information Service in its North West Regional Office located at Timber Quay.

That information until now, was only available at the Business Information Centre at Invest NI's headquarters in Belfast. Locals and politicians, with a special thanks to Elisha Mc Callion MP,  have lobbied hard to get this service delivered locally, we have to use it or lose it!

Schools in Belfast routinely take their business students to Belfast Central Library where they do have access to some of these reports. It means they have a head start appreciating and accessing the value of this information.

Unfortunately the funds aren't available to provide this in other libraries in the North. The Ulster University and Queens also give access to some of these reports but they are not allowed to provide them when the students graduate.

If you have an existing business, or you are a a budding entrepreneur with an idea for a new business and think you can export, you should go along and look at the fantastic resources provided for free. These reports would normally cost thousands and will give you the chance to access information normally only accessible to corporates. It gives small and medium business a fantastic opportunity to level the playing field.

So what information is available? Companies can access the most up-to-date information on a vast range of markets, sectors, companies and countries including:

· Markets: industry reports worldwide, including key players, market size, forecasts and key trends, providing the data needed to compete in international markets

· Companies: Financial data, contact, activity and directory details, to help companies identify new customers, suppliers and competitors.

· Legal Agreements: Templates of business agreements, such as agents and distributorship contracts.

Critical to success

Market research is critical to export success. You can find out where are the best markets?What are your competitors up to? Who would make reliable export partners? How can you save yourself time and a HUGE amount of money by using accurate market data? It will make your marketing easier and more effective driving how you communicate with the best target market. This information is the gold standard, it's cannot be found with a google search.

So if you are preparing a business plan and think you have the potential to export, regardless of your age or what it is (yes, the North West can be the new Silicon Valley), just call on 02871 267257 or better still, submit an enquiry to [email protected]

This allows the team to carry out some research, to discern which database will give you the most applicable information. They can then arrange for you to come in and view the databases and direct you to the reports on-line.

The more specific your request for information is the more detailed information the databases can provide. Some clients search the websites of the suppliers to identify relevant reports before making a request.

So, what are you waiting for?

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