Hammer and NailIf you’re starting a business, you might know you need market research and information about your competitors, but not know where to find it. The Small Business Administration recently released the perfect tool to help you start and grow your business. Called SizeUp, the tool lets you do a few key things:

  • Benchmark your business against competitors
  • Map your customers, competitors and suppliers
  • Locate the best places to advertise

Best part? It’s free! We love free, don’t we? Once you enter your business’ industry and location, you can click on My Business, where you input your company’s revenue, year started, and salary. Each of those data points will show you how your company stacks up to competition in the area.

You can see if your revenues are more or less than average in your city, if your business has been around longer than others, and see how well you’re paying (or not paying) your staff.

The Competition tab will show you other businesses in your industry on a map. Click on each to find out how long they’ve been in business and other details about your competitors.

The Advertising tool is really useful if you’re wondering which geographic area to target. It lays out the collective annual revenue of people who live in a given city or region, which can help you decide who’s got the most disposable income they can spend with your business. Click on a city, and you’ll get a page rich in demographics: average household income, property tax, home value, labor force details, and more. You can also find out which markets are underserved in your industry, which might be helpful if you’re trying to pick a location to start your business in.

You can use the tool without logging in, but if you create a free account, you gain access to even more reports and data.

Why Data is Important

Operating in a bubble won’t help you grow your business. But knowing what’s happening in your industry, where customers are spending money, and what trends are on the horizon can help you anticipate changes and accommodate for them. The more you know, well, just like the commercial from the ’80s said: the more you grow. And who doesn’t want to grow their business?

Rather than having to pay big bucks for a data research tool, take advantage of SBA’s free version. It might surprise you at what you can learn.