Sizing Up Your Business with SizeUp, a New SBA Research Tool
Insightful market research has often eluded many entrepreneurs. To gain an accurate assessment of a market, you either had to:
- pound the pavement collecting data and then spend countless hours crunching the numbers
- read and analyze dry (and sometimes expensive) secondary research reports
- or pay top dollar for a market research firm to do all the work
But thanks to the Small Business Administration (SBA), relevant market research is more easily available to small business owners looking to set up shop in new locations.
The Lowdown on SizeUp
The SBA recently launched SizeUp (http://www.sba.gov/sizeup). This free online tool consists of three main components that can help you gain insight into your market:
- My Business — A section that generates reports comparing your business success to comparable local establishments. Reports can be based on your annual revenue, year of incorporation (including and after 1986) and your typical worker's average annual salary.
- Competition — A map view that includes a list of your local competitors with relevant information about their businesses. You can also enter information about suppliers to find more businesses that can meet your needs. Better yet, providing customer profiles will produce a list of potential customers in your area—or whatever map area you feel like targeting.
- Advertising — Another map section, this one focuses on the best places to advertise your business. You can change the advertising location results based on several useful criteria comprising highest total revenue, highest household income, most underserved markets, highest average revenue and highest revenue per capita.
Because each of these three areas are so customizable—and can yield very lengthy reports—it’s fairly safe to say SizeUp will likely turn out to be a very useful tool to small business owners in many different industries and geographical areas. From the ability to weigh the options of expanding operations, starting a new business and researching new audiences, entrepreneurs can find actual value in this SBA tool.
The Steps to Capitalizing on SizeUp
The tool is fairly intuitive and easy to navigate. In general, you’ll want to follow a couple guidelines:
- Create an account so you’ll have access to more information and be able to receive updates.
- Make sure you’re accessing SizeUp with a current version of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
To start using SizeUp, follow these steps:
- Visit http://www.sba.gov/sizeup.
- Enter your industry and choose an appropriate option from the list that will appear.
- Enter your city and state.
- Click the “Submit” button.
- Click the “My Business” button. This section is one of the best places to start seeing the capabilities of SizeUp.
- Enter either your annual revenue, year your business was founded or salary for your average annual employee in the correct field and click the “Run Report” button that will appear.
- After reviewing the information, scroll down to the “See More Reports” button and click the “Free Registration” link.
- Enter your email address and desired password in the respective fields and click the “Create Account” button. You will be automatically redirected to the “My Business" section.
- Explore any other regions of SizeUp you want to explore.
- Once you’re finished, click the “Sign Out” link in the upper right corner.
Revisit SizeUp at least a couple times a year to see how the landscape has changed and what adjustments your business should make to remain competitive. While the tool can’t tell you how to improve your business, it can provide the information you need to make tough decisions.