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Doing market research

Before moving forward with your business idea, it is important to get the facts. Completing basic research - like market research - can save time, money and a lot of heartache. Let’s start with the basics that apply to all aspiring business owners: Do you have an idea or a business opportunity? An idea is fun to talk about, but a market opportunity can make you money. To have a real business, you have to:

  • find people who will be willing to pay for your product or service (there have to be enough of them to make it worth your while) – research market potential using census data and demographic databases
  • deliver the service or manufacture the product – research production options using business databases
  • know who you compete with – research competitors using business databases
  • understand whether your product is unique or proprietary – research patent filings
The SBA recently announced SizeUp, an online small business support service that can deliver customized business analysis. SizeUp provides data analysis in three key ways:
  • Benchmarking an existing business to see how it sizes up by comparing performance to all other competitors in the same industry;
  • Mapping competition to see where competitors, customers, and suppliers are located; and
  • Finding the best places to advertise by choosing from pre-set reports to discover areas with the highest industry revenue and the most underserved markets. Custom demographic reports can also be created.

Go to  and search for Business Research to find libraries and others who can help you.