Center For Rural Research & Development

Market Research and Entrepreneur Resources

Are you a service provider, educator or networking group looking for a personalized presentation on market research resources for area small business owners. The CRRD Director is available to bring a presentation similar to the one he takes to the Hastings CCC campus' "Become an Entrepreneur" class to you or your group. Please call or email Shawn Kaskie at 308-865-8135 or kaskiesc@unk.edu to discuss your needs.

Free Market Research Resources

List originally prepared by Christine Hamilton-Pennell, Business/Industry Affairs Department, City of Littleton, January 2005. Additions have been made since January 2005.

General Sites

All Business, http://www.allbusiness.com/, offers a number of short articles on all aspects of running a small business. You can find information on topics such as starting a business, incorporation, sales and marketing, accounting and finance, franchises, buying and selling a business, insurance, and Internet and technology. A variety of business forms and guides are available for purchase.

Business Week Online-Small Biz, http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/index.html, offers news and advice for entrepreneurs on topics such as marketing, sales, leadership, and technology. There are special "resource centers" on opening a franchise, comparing salaries, and purchasing health insurance and retirement programs.

Entrepreneur.com, http://www.entrepreneur.com/, has a vast array of resources on starting a business, buying a franchise, growing a home-based business, business opportunities, money and finance, sales and marketing, management, e-business, technology, and other topics.

EntrepreneurialConnection.com, http://www.entrepreneurialconnection.com/, powered by the National Association of the Self-Employed, offers free learning modules on topics vital to the success of the self-employed and micro-entrepreneurs (with less than 10 employees). Some of the topics covered include creating a marketing plan, financing, outsourcing, and wireless networks. You can also subscribe to a free newsletter, Get Connected.

My Own Business, http://www.myownbusiness.org/, is a free Internet course for anyone starting a business. It provides 12 lessons covering topics such as business communications, e-commerce and online marketing, and small business marketing. The course textbook may be purchased for a donation of $45.00.

Peerspectives, http://www.peerspectives.org/, from the Edward Lowe Foundation, features articles on topics such as business planning, market definition, finances, legal issues, operations, human relations, and technology. Case studies are included.

Small Business Administration (SBA), http://www.sba.gov/, has sections on starting a business, financing a business, managing a business, business opportunities, and disaster recovery. The site's library offers more than 200 free publications, as well as forums, business magazine links, and frequently asked questions. The SBA's Online Women's Business Center, http://www.onlinewbc.gov/, also has a section called "Business Basics" that covers topics such as accounting and finance, growing your business, marketing, and procurement.

Small Business Advancement National Center (SBANC), http://www.sbaer.uca.edu/, provides databases of local SBA offices, the Small Business Institute network, and a research archive of publications from 18 organizations such as the Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and the Marketing Management Association. The website also offers industry profiles, business plans, research articles, loan information, conference details, and international and domestic contact information.

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) National Information Center Clearinghouse, http://www.sbdcnet.org/, is a virtual library of resources for small businesses. It includes annotated links to websites containing forms and regulations for business start-ups, demographic information, company information, patent and trademark information, industry research, finance, small business trends, marketing, and many more topics. You can also access the SBDC Counselor Toolkit, which contains actual examples of business plans, marketing audits, finance matrices, and other resources. This site is a good place to start your search for information and resources.

WSJ Startup Journal, http://www.startupjournal.com/, is part of the journal's Center for Entrepreneurs. It includes how-to advice, news, and articles on topics such as marketing and sales, franchising, financing, running a business, and e-commerce. You'll find a selection of tools that walk you through creating a mini business plan on line and doing a trademark search.

Business Plans

BPlans.com-The Business Planning Expert, http://www.bplans.com/, offers more than 60 free sample business plans that you can view online. It also features interactive calculators to determine cash flow, starting costs, conversion rate, and other figures to use in a business plan, and includes feature articles on topics such as starting a business, marketing and advertising, growing a business, and managing your e-business. The company's Business Plan Pro 2005 business planning software is available for purchase through the website.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Business Plan and Profile Index, http://www.carnegielibrary.org/research/business/bplansindex.html, lists types of small businesses and a corresponding small business plan, profile, or book about each type with sources provided after each entry.

Small Business Development Center-Business Plans, http://www.sbdcnet.org/SBIC/businessplans.php, links to sites with specific business plans and other business planning tools and resources.

Business, Demographic, and Economics Statistics

EconData.Net, http://www.econdata.net/, "aims to be a convenient, comprehensive first stop for anyone searching among the vast, disparate array of public and private (socioeconomic) data sources on the Web." The site offers links by subject (e.g., demographics, income, output and trade) and provider, and indicates which sites charge for their information.

Economic Indicators, http://www.gpoaccess.gov/indicators/index.html, is a monthly compilation of economic information on prices, wages, production, business activity, purchasing power, credit, money and Federal finance. Data is available from April 1995 forward.

Federal Reserve Board Economic Research and Data, http://www.federalreserve.gov/rnd.htm, includes a section on current interest rate statistics, some of which are released almost daily, others monthly or quarterly. They include bank prime rates, foreign exchange rates, U.S. government securities rates, conventional mortgage rates.

FedStats, http://www.fedstats.gov/, is a "gateway to statistics from over 100 U.S. Federal agencies." Links to statistics are organized by topic, by geography, and through a general search. There are also links to published collections of statistics such as the Statistical Absract of the United States and the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book. Other useful resources include a list of agencies that provide statistics and links to selected agency online databases.

The Gallup Organization, http://www.gallup.com/, contains links to various polls, reports, trends and audits of public opinion conducted by The Gallup Organization. The main page and the "Gallup Poll" link contain the majority of the useful free information. The site contains a search function. You can subscribe to the full content of the site for $95 a year.

National Center for Health Statistics, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/, is the Federal Government's principal vital and health statistics agency. It includes healthcare industry trends as well as information about vital statistics and topics such as health insurance coverage.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html, contains a searchable list of 2002 NAICS codes (with links to definitions), as well as tables showing correspondence between NAICS 97 and SIC, and tables showing correspondence between NAICS 97 and NAICS 02. NAICS was developed jointly by the United States, Canada, and Mexico to provide new comparability in statistics about business activity across North America and has replaces the U.S. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system.

Salary.com, http://www.salary.com/, contains all kinds of information relating to compensation. While most of the content is available for a fee, there are several free "wizards." The Salary Wizard lists salary statistics for hundreds of positions by geographic location. The Cost-of-Living Wizard compares living-cost indexes and salary differentials between any combinations of 300-plus U.S. cities. It also reports the salary adjustment needed to maintain a particular standard of living, and what salary increase or decrease is likely given local market factors.

SBA Office of Advocacy, http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/, offers research studies and data on small businesses, finance, business owner demographics, regulation, exporting, and other topics. Among the dozens of downloadable reports in Small Business Economy, an extensive annual report that provides information on small business' performance in the economy. You can also subscribe to a number of e-newsletters on small business research.

Statistical Resources on the Web, http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/stats.html, from the University of Michigan Documents Center, is and annotated index to statistical websites and individual statistical publications arranged by broad subject category. Subjects covered include agriculture, business and industry, consumers, cost of living, demographics, economics, education, energy, environment, finance and currency, foreign economics, foreign governments, foreign trade, U.S. government finances, health, housing, labor, military, politics, science, sociology, transportation, and weather.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), http://www.bea.gov/, offers information on such key issues as U.S. economic growth, regional economic development, and the position of the United States in the world economy. 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Data, http://www.bls.gov/data/home.htm, includes time-series data covering employment, prices and living conditions, compensation and living conditions, and productivity and technology.

U.S. Census Bureau Economic Programs, http://www.census.gov/econ/index.html, provides economic statistics by geography, sector (e.g. construction, retail trade, and transportation), and frequency. The site includes the Economic Census, which profiles American business every five years, from the national to the local level. You'll also find statistics on county business patterns, e-commerce, foreign trade, monthly wholesale and retail trade, and many other economics topics.

USA Today Money, http://www.usatoday.com/money/front.htm, provides daily updates on domestic and world markets, treasury securities, commodities, currencies, key interest rates, and other economic indicators.

Export and Trade Information

International Telecommunication Union, http://www.itu.int/home/index.html, offers free electronic copies of its reports and free statistics such as telephone lines by country, number of PCs per country, and telecommunications indicators.

NationMaster.com, http://www.nationmaster.com/index.php, allows you to graphically compare economic and demographic statistics among nations. "NationMaster is a vast compilation of data from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, United Nations, World Health Organization, World Back, World Resources Institute, UNESCO, UNICEF and OECD. Using the form above, you can generate maps and graphs on all kinds of statistics with ease."

National Statistics, http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html, "provides a broad and comprehensive range of foreign trade statistics that are available on a monthly, annual, and historical basis. This includes information on up to 18,000 import commodity codes, 9,000 export commodity codes, 240 U.S. trading partners, 400 U.S. ports, over 50 states and territories, and 45 districts. Some of the statistics include quantities, values, shipping weights, methods of transportation (air or vessel), duties collected, unit prices, and market share."

Financing Resources

Business Finance.com, http://www.businessfinance.com/, allows you to search the funding criteria of over 4,000 sources for business loans, venture capital, equipment leasing, and commercial real estate financing. You can search by type of funding (e.g., working capital or equipment finance), or you can limit your search to funding sources for businesses already in existence for four months, for businesses just starting up, or for purchase of a business or franchise.

SBA- Financing Your Business, http://www.sba.gov/financing/, provides information about raising capital for your business. It includes information about eligibility and preparation, SBA loans, contract security bonds, equity capital, and special purpose loan programs.

Marketing Principles and Strategies

Mplans.com, http://www.mplans.com/, contains a collection of free sample marketing plans. It also offers articles and advice for managing a business. "Mplans.com includes practical advice on planning, interactive tools, and a panel of experts who have answered more than 1,400 questions from people like you." The website is a free resource owned and operated by Palo Alto Software, Inc., which also sells their marketing software on the site.

Peerspectives- Defining and Serving a Market, http://peerspectives.org/, offers a number of short articles and resources on topics such as exporting, market strategy, and multicultural marketing. A particularly helpful resource is the in-depth article, "How to Prepare a Market Analysis," which includes a checklist of resources for gathering market data.

Market Research - General Sources

Condensed Guide to Market Research, http://www.informars.com/main/MarketResearch.aspx, from Informa Research Services, provides an overview of market research, including data collection techniques, available research methodologies, and when to conduct research.

Inc.com- Market Research, http://www.inc.com/guides/marketing/24018.html, has a collection of articles about market research, including low-budget suggestions for conducting your own market research.

Market Research - Primary Research

Focus Groups: A Facilitator's Guide, http://oqi.wisc.edu/resourcelibrary/uploads/resources/Facilitator%20Tool%20Kit.pdf, is a PDF file form the University of Wisconsin-Madison that contains helpful information on setting up and facilitating focus groups. Another useful resource on the site is the PDF file, Focus Groups: When and Why to Use, http://www.virginia.edu/processsimplification/resources/WiscFocusGroups.pdf.

Company and Industry Information

AnnualReports.com, http://www.annualreports.com/default.aspx, "is the most complete and up to date listing of Annual Reports online. We are America's largest report service. Our directory is a free Internet service that will enable potential investors to review a company's annual report in an easy, convenient manner. This free service provides access to annual reports in their actual format."

Hoovers.com, http://www.hoovers.com, offers free brief information about companies, as well as news and industry information. For most companies, you can access a description of the company, sales revenues, and key personnel. To access the in-depth information (financials, executive profiles, competitors) you must purchase a subscription, which ranges in price depending on the type of organization and number of users.

LLRX.com- Business Filings Database, http://www.llrx.com/columns/roundup29.htm, is a helpful compendium of annotated links by state to corporate and business filings available online. "All 50 states make some level of corporate and business filings available online. In a few instances only limited information (such as name availability) is retrievable. The majority of the states, however, use their Web presence to disseminate a range of public business records -- and most of them offer access at no charge."

SEC Filings and Forms (EDGAR), http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml, provides free access to U.S. corporate filings. All companies, foreign and domestic, are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR. The website offers links to the complete list of filings available through EDGAR and provides instructions for searching the EDGAR database.

Thomas.net, http://www.thomasnet.com, is an industrial search engine that provides information on more than 650,000 manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers. You can search for product information by category or name; for example, glass bottles or fence posts. You can also search for company information by region or for the entire United States and Canada, and for information by brand name. Other options include millions of CAD drawings, a radius search from a specific location, and company certification information. The website is free.

Entrepreneurship Resources

Listed below are a few sites that are dedicated to recognizing undergraduate student entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship networks servicing colleges and universities, and other advice and tools for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Attributes - Small Business Failure - Starting a Business

Business Incubators - Business Location - Business Partners - Startup Costs

Entrepreneurial Backgrounds - First Year of Business - Inventions

Network Marketing - Online Startups - Startup Resources - Entrepreneurship

Young Entrepreneurs - Business Ideas - Naming and Branding - City Guides

Buying a Business - Writing a Business Plan - Raising Money - Incorporate

Small Business Marketing - Advertising Advice - Public Relations -

Customer Service Tips - Entrepreneurial Selling - Workplace Safety

Startup Leadership - Strategy - Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurs

Articles on Exporting - Human Resources for Entrepreneurs - Workers Comp

Legal Information for Entrepreneurs - Sarbanes-Oxley - Accounting - SBDC

Business Credit Cards - Nonprofit Entrepreneurs - Mission Statements

Tax Tips and Resources for Entrepreneurs - Operating Your Startup Business

Real Estate Decisions for Entrepreneurs - Franchising - Selling a Business

Starting a Home Business - Small Business Technology - Business Travel

Business Finance - Advice for Retailers - Entrepreneurship for Scientists

Administrative Professionals / Office Managers - Family Business Advice

Good Businesses to Start - Start an Energy Business - Start a Hedge Fund

Payroll Service Information - Productivity Tips - Bad Economy Advice

Small Business Websites - Search Engine Optimization - Online Reputation

Search Engine Marketing - Social Marketing Optimization - Business Forms

Business in the Jungle - Negotiating - Radio Ad Costs

Newspaper Advertising Rates - City-Specific Resources for Entrepreneurs

Small Business Insurance - Global Entrepreneurship - China & Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur Features - Employee to Entrepreneur - Small Business Ethics

Good Business Books - SBA Franchise Loans

Small Business Loans - Studying Entrepreneurship - How Kids Make Money

Social Entrepreneurship - Mergers and Acquisitions - Entrepreneur Blogs

Veteran Entrepreneurs - Useful Web Sites for Entrepreneurs - Dell Deals

Buy.com Deals - Female Entrepreneurship - Small Business Experts

Entrepreneurial Resources by State - Resources for Young Entrepreneurs

African American Entrepreneurs - Resources for Hispanic Entrepreneurs

Resources for Asian Entrepreneurs - Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

Help for Native American Entrepreneurs - Resources for Gay Entrepreneurs

Businesses for Sale - Office Supplies - Online Entrepreneur Tools

Economics - Lists of Small Business Incubators - Lists of Angel Investors

Lists of Venture Capital and Private Equity Firms - Franchise Opportunities

Recommended Products and Services for Entrepreneurs - Contributors

Get FREE Price Quotes from Multiple Vendors - Business Glossary&

Global Student Entrepreneur Awards
- Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization

Enactus Student Organization