Getting Started: Market Research Resources

If you've made the decision to take the plunge into the exciting and fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, it's important to realize that the market research needed is just beginning. Many fledgling entrepreneurs take longer to find success because they haven't fully researched the industry, scoped out the competition, found the ideal location and truly understood a target audience's behavior. All of these things are crucial to small business success and it all comes with a great business plan. 

But that task can seem a bit daunting. Where to start? Here are five market research tools that will help get the data needed to write a business plan and guide business decisions. 

The U.S. Census Bureau:

The U.S. Census Bureau has an enormous amount of information at your fingertips. Below are some simple and effective market research resources.   

  • Census Business Builder’ Small Business Search ExampleThe Census Business Builder is a data collection tool that offers valuable demographic, socioeconomic and housing data of an area or region. The Business Builder offers 2 different editions: Small Business Edition and Regional Analyst Edition. The Small Business Edition contains industry-specific data such as the number of business and average total revenue per business. Conversely, the Regional Analyst Edition provides a general overview of businesses in the region. Both Census Business Builder editions are useful tools for conducting and generating market research reports. 
     
  • The Census Bureau also offers wonderful educational resources. Its Training Opportunities webpage contains a listing of upcoming online courses like Increasing your Competitive Advantage and Data on a Deadline: Quick Data Tools & Interactive Maps. To enroll in any of these webinars, register in advance

Arlington Public Library:

The Arlington Public Library is an indispensable resource for your market research demands, and to access all its information, all you need is a library card*.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA):

The U.S. Small Business Administration is your federal ally when it comes to small business needs, and it offers many useful market research starter tools.

  • Mapping toolFor research assistance, the SBA’s Small Business Tool website is an excellent starting point. One great tool is SizeUp, which allows users to gauge and compare a business against competitors in areas like revenue, revenue per capita and cost effectiveness. The application can also recommend locations to implement an advertising campaign. Additionally, the SBA offers the Get Online Training Tool with 30-minute Market Research Webinar sessions that can be watched anytime. 
     
  • For more general data like Consumer Statistics and Economic Indicators, check out SBA’s Business Data & Statistics webpage. Each of the listed categories not only describes the importance of the statistical data but also provides multiple resources available to access such information. 

Overall, having the necessary graphic and statistical data will help you better understand the market, prospective clients and your business needs. I encourage you to explore and experiment with the various market research resources available to you.


* You are also eligible for an Arlington Public Library card if you reside in: The District of Columbia, City of Alexandria, City of Falls Church, Fairfax County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Frederick County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

Topic: BizLaunch
 
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