Market Research and Entrepreneur Resources

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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 offers a number of short articles on all aspects of running a small business. You can find information on topics from starting a business to insurance and franchises. There are also a variety of business forms and guides available for purchase.

Business Week Online 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. has a vast array of resources on starting a business and maintaining a business from small shop to corporation., 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). You can also subscribe to a free newsletter, Get Connected.

My Own Business 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 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),, 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.

Small Business Advancement National Center (SBANC),, 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,, 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,, 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. is dedicated to recognizing undergraduate student entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship networks servicing colleges and universities, and other advice and tools for entrepreneurs.

Business Plans Business Planning Expert,, 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,, 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,, links to sites with specific business plans and other business planning tools and resources.

Business, Demographics, and Economic Statistics

Federal Reserve Board Economic Research and Data,, 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,, 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 Abstract 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,, 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,, 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),, 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.,, 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,, 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.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA),, 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,, includes time-series data covering employment, prices and living conditions, compensation and living conditions, and productivity and technology.

U.S. Census Bureau Economic Programs,, 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,, provides daily updates on domestic and world markets, treasury securities, commodities, currencies, key interest rates, and other economic indicators.

Statistical Resources on the Web 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.

Export and Trade Information

International Telecommunication Union,, offers free electronic copies of its reports and free statistics such as telephone lines by country, number of PCs per country, and telecommunications indicators.,, 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,, "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,, 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,, 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,, contains a collection of free sample marketing plans. It also offers articles and advice for managing a business. " 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.

Market Research - General Sources

Condensed Guide to Market Research,, from Informa Research Services, provides an overview of market research, including data collection techniques, available research methodologies, and when to conduct research. Market Research,, 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,, 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,

UNESCO Internal Oversight Service- Evaluation Manual offers basic information about how to evaluate a program or services and includes questions to ask at each stage of an evaluation exercise, a guide to the preparation of questionnaires, a guide to the preparation and conduct of group interviews, and a glossary. Please note this link does not go directly to the manual, however the list of evaluations is quite helpful.

Company and Industry Information,, "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.",, 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. Business Filings Database,, 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),, 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.,, 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. provides "Small Business Sales: 6 Strategies for Prospecting," and Forbes has updated the Rules for Prospecting in the Age of the Customer.

Entrepreneurship Resources

Other Resources

Survey Monkey
Cost:Free. Enhanced plans with additional services run up to $65 per month.
What It Is: An online survey and opinion poll service.
How to Use It:You can creative surveys free of charge for your own audience. For a fee, you also can get feedback from your target audience via SurveyMonkey's own samples.
Get the Most Out of It: Beyond the answers to survey questions, respondents may provide additional insight in their open-ended comments.

Brandow Co.
Camp Hill, Pa.
Cost: Free.
What It Is:Free business statistics and financial data for various industries.
How to Use It: The various filters help you find financial information about other companies in your field that are of similar size. The site also provides calculators and others tools to help you understand profit-risk ratios, cost of goods sold and valuation factors for your business.
Get the Most Out of It: Use BizStats to see the revenue potential for your startup and to determine how much you should be spending on advertising. You also can compare your inventory turnover with that of your competitors.

Securities and Exchange Commission Filings
Securities and Exchange Commission
Washington, D.C.
Cost: Free.
What It Is: Periodic filings by public companies to comply with SEC regulations.
How to Use It: The SEC's EDGAR tool can search annual reports and 10-K forms, which provide detailed financial information and market analyses.
Get the Most Out of It: Market research expert Marcy Phelps suggests zeroing in on the sections of 10-Ks that include the description of the business, the management discussion and market risks.

Zoom Prospector
GIS Planning
San Francisco
Cost: Free.
What It Is: This online tool helps companies choose the best locations for their facilities based on market data provided by a network of communities.
How to Use It: Answer questions about your market, type of business and real estate needs, and ZoomProspector will provide a list of locations it deems best for you.
Get the Most Out of It: Be sure you understand the demographic profile of your target customers so your business will be matched with areas that offer the most promising prospects.
Moody's Analytics
West Chester, Pa.
Cost: Free. Registration required.
What It Is: Economic, demographic and financial data.
How to Use It: The data, covering everything from consumer and labor markets to gross domestic product and inventory ratios, will give you insight into economic and population trends.
Get the Most Out of It: Check out the reports on 387 regions, including gross metropolitan product, migration flows, population and descriptions of the area's characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.