Gone were the days when government data is off-limits. Data can be very expensive. That’s why before some companies mine these data, packaged them and sell it for boatload of money to their customers. Nothing wrong with that, but if you are just starting up and you need to do market research, there are places where you can access data for – free.
Depending on the type of market data you’re looking for, you can explore the world. What you want to do is you to narrow down the field specifics. And then drill down or expand from there.
I’m going to list of some websites, where you can mine data for free. Websites from the US government, International organizations, such as the World Bank, United Nations, OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), other countries government sites, state and local governments, trade associations, NGOs and more. Technically, you can pretty much get everything online – these days.
US GOVERNMENT WEBSITES
I heard in a seminar that NOAA (Natl. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – part of Dept. of Commerce) opened up their data a while back. In essence, their data powered the Weather Channel and some other weather-related sites. HHS (Dept. of Human Health and Services) have a number of key sites where you can get data related to human health, for example HealthCare.gov, where you can find different health plans available to you down to the area where you live. Sometime in the summer of this year, they’re planning to release some 1,000+ health indicators that you can literally nail it down to pricing. The idea is to give consumer the access to information so they can decide what’s good for them and make the cos. compete for your business.
This uber site is where you can track opportunities, see where they money is going, etc. The site is linked to FedBizOpps.gov, where you can information about contracts; Grants.gov, where you can get info what type of grants available, and most important – if you are qualify; GovLoans.gov, to find the right loans from business loans, business industrial loans, agriculture, education, housing, veteran loans, etc.; and SBA.gov, with focused specifically targeted to small businesses.
The Commerce Department has 12 bureaus including Census Bureau, Minority Business Development, NOAA, NTIA, NIST, USPTO (Patent).
Most business data is available through the Census Bureau. The census have a list of economic indicators, that you might have heard via the news. Let’s say you are in construction business, you want to know the trend. These are sample of the list of data available to you: housing vacancies and homeownership, new home sales, housing starts/ building permits. In addition to economic indicators, it also offers access to economic census that is released every 5 years, other economic programs that is primarily national.
Digging in deeper, you’ll find market data by sector: economy wide, construction, governments, international trade, manufacturing, retail, services, wholesale, and other sectors (agriculture, mining and utilities).
You might want to bookmark this site for business data you can use: http://www.census.gov/econ/census/index.html
Determine which data you need, you then can look at data, i.e. the services sector and then get the industry snapshots that will show the size of market, and which market is growing within the industry.
WHICH MARKET IS TRENDING UP?
Want to know which market is trending up? NAICS site is the place. There are 11 sectors that fall into the category within NAICS (North American Industry Classification System). If you’re thinking about starting up a business, this is the place where you want to spend a lot of time digging in market data. You can see statistics of U.S. businesses down to the number of companies, employees, payroll, revenue by employment-size. Half of the businesses in the U.S. is small business under 4 employees. However, the big companies – those over 500 employees – employs half of the U.S. workforce. Make sense now, why there are more incentives for the big businesses than small biz. It’s the headcount.
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