Are you writing a business plan? Planning to expand into new markets?
It’s worth knowing that Uncle Sam offers access to free data that can help you understand your market and analyze consumer trends and demographics. In fact, the federal government is the largest producer of data in the U.S. with numerous offices dedicated to collecting, analyzing and providing free access to their findings – good news for budget-conscious small business owners.
Here are five government sources of market data and statistics that may boost your market research efforts:
Business Data and Statistics from SBA.gov
A good place to start is SBA.gov’s Business Data and Statistics page, where you’ll find a collection of resources providing free access to information about business and economic conditions and indicators collected by the U.S. government. Whether you sell to businesses or consumers, these sites include data and statistics on income, employment, trade, and manufacturing, and plenty more.
The U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov) maintains a vast repository of information that is quick and easy to navigate, thanks to a variety of Data Access Tools. For example, with The American FactFinder, just enter a city and state and the tool will generate multiple options for viewing social, economic, household and demographic data for your town or future location.
The main site has also been newly re-launched to make it very simple to find the data you need, including a neat interactive map that shows a mash-up of economic and demographic statistics for any town, city, or state in America.
If you like what you see but are not sure how to use and interpret the data, the Census Bureau hosts seminars across the country to help business owners learn more about business and industry data on the site. Learn more.
If you want data but don’t know which agency maintains or produces it, head on over to FedStats.gov. This no-frills data-driven site provides access to a full range of official statistical information produced by the federal government without having to know in advance which federal agency produces which particular statistic. Data is available on wide-ranging topics, including economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, and farm production.
Small Business Statistics
Interested in statistics about how small business is doing? The SBA Office of Advocacy conducts and publishes its own research on topics such as the small business economy.
For briefings on retail sales, durable goods, manufacturing, construction, new home sales, and more, Economicindicators.gov provides access to daily releases of key economic indicators from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau. This is probably your best bet if you’re looking for one site that says it all.
Visit SBA’s guide to Conducting Market Research for tips on how to put this data and other information to use.
About the Author:
Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed.