Online Business Resources

Information is the key to good business decisions. There is a great deal of good information freely available on the Web. The following websites provide a starting point for your business research activities. They are arranged in categories to help you expedite your search. Note that the opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the websites’ producer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBTDC.

Associations – Directories
Associations – Business
Benchmarking
Business Plans
Competitive Intelligence
Demographics / Psychographics
newE-commerce
Economic Development
Entrepreneurship
Financing Resources
Franchising
Government Resources – Federal
Government Resources – NC
Human Resources
Industry Research
International Trade
Legal
Market Research
Marketing
Primary Research Tools
Publications
Science & Technology
Search Engine Optimization
Social Media
Starting a Business
Statistics

 

Associations – Directories

ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Member Trade Associations at the ANSI portal allow you to search by name, ICS codes, and industry sector. This listing includes associations that contribute to US standards and conformity assessments.

Directory of Associations | DirectoryOfAssociations.com
Search from over 35,000 local, regional, national, and international associations.

Industry Trade Groups | Hundreds of industry trade groups and associations are listed alphabetically at Wikipedia with live links to each association’s Website.

Associations – Business

American Marketing Association | marketingpower.com
The world’s largest and most comprehensive professional society of marketers

Biotechnology Industry Organization | bio.org
The mission of BIO is to be the champion of biotechnology and the advocate for its member organizations –both large and small

National Restaurant Associationrestaurant.org
The leading business association for the restaurant industry

National Retail Federation | nrf.com
The world’s largest retail trade association

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Benchmarking

Biz Stats | bizstats.com
Compare your company performance to others in the same industry

Fintel Scorecard | fintel.us/products/BusinessScorecard.html
Compare your company to others in the industry based on 9 core ratios

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Business Plans

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh | clpgh.org/subject/business/bplansindex.html
Guide to business plans by type of business

Entrepreneur Magazine has a wealth of useful information about business plan writing.  Two helpful articles:

Business Plans: A Step-by-Step Guide is a “how to” for writing your plan along with the business rationale for doing so.  The article provides templates, sample plans, and links to plan-writing software.
How to Write A Business Plan provides necessary information about the proper formatting of your business plan.

SBA Business Plan Basics | sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner
step by step instructions for creating a business plan from the SBA

SCORE Business Plan Template | score.org/node/803280
Preferred by counselors, SCORE offers a variety of business plan templates and tools.

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Competitive Intelligence

Competitive Intelligence – A Selective Resource Guide | llrx.com/features/ciguide.htm
Articles on competitive intelligence

Internet Intelligence Index™ | insights.fuld.com
Created by Fuld & Company, this index, with links to over 600 internet sites, will help you gather information in support of your competitive intelligence efforts.

Hoover’s Company Profiles | via nclive.org
Free information on over 40,000 companies, including company overview, industry information, leadership and historical financials. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

Investigators Toolbox | virtuallibrarian.com
An extensive list of fee and free resources for competitive research.

Reference USA | via nclive.org
Free reference and research tool providing real-time access to accurate, in-depth information on 24 million US businesses and 234 million US residents.  Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

Securities & Exchange Commission | sec.gov
Search for required filings of publicly traded corporations

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Demographics / Psychographics

ACCESSNC | via nclive.org
Free statistical, analytical and mapping tool designed to aid economic and community development decision making. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

The US Census Bureau |  census.gov provides detailed, demographic information including population, age and sex, health, education, race, housing, income and the economy.  Map your data using census mapping.

Visit these two Census bureau sites for quick-facts and guided queries:

American Fact Finder | factfinder2.census.gov
Run guided queries.
QuickFacts | census.gov/quickfacts
QuickFacts provides statistics for all states and counties, and for cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more.
Census Mapping | map my census data
View, save, and print demographic, socioeconomic, economic and other US statistical data.

FreeDemographics | freedemographics.com
Free demographic market analysis reports

Melissa Data | melissadata.com
Free address information for businesses and individuals

My Best Segments-Claritas | claritas.com/MyBestSegments/Default.jsp
MyBestSegments features information about Claritas’ segmentation system PRIZM NE and is the only source for detailed segment descriptions for all of Claritas’ market segmentation products.

NC Rural Databank | ncruralcenter.org/databank/index.html
Statistical information on North Carolina’s rural counties

State Data Center | via nclive.org
Free population, economic, and income data as well as county profiles and rankings. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

State Demographics | via nclive.org
Free state, county, and municipal population estimates and projections by year, age, race, and sex. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

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E-commerce

Etsy Seller Handbook | etsy.com/seller-handbook
Advice and inspiration for running an Etsy shop

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Economic Development

NC Commerce Site Selectors’ Toolkit | thrivenc.com/locationtools/overview
Information for site selectors considering NC as a business location

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Entrepreneurship

Council for Entrepreneurial Development | cednc.org
A private, non-profit organization formed to identify, enable and promote high growth, high impact entrepreneurial companies and to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture of the Research Triangle and NC

Edward Lowe Foundation | edwardlowe.org
To champion the entrepreneurial spirit by providing information, research and educational experiences that support entrepreneurship and the free enterprise system

Entrepreneur Magazine | entrepreneur.com
Small business tools; business plan guide; entrepreneur’s databases for business opportunities and franchise information

Inc Magazine | inc.com
Provides small-business information, Web-based tools, products, and services

Kauffman Foundation | kauffman.org
Focuses its grant making and operations on advancing entrepreneurship and improving the education of children and youth.

ProQuest Entrepreneurship | via nclive.org
Free database with information for entrepreneurs and researchers that includes business start-up plans, video clips, journals, business cases, and more.  Access online at no charge with your NC public library card via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

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Financing Resources

Capital Opportunities for Small Business | sbtdc.org/resources/publications/capital-opportunities/
SBTDC’s online publication for finding capital resources for NC businesses

SBA-Financing | sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants
Describes loan availability, eligibility, sources of grants

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Franchising

Entrepreneur Magazine-Franchise Opportunities | entrepreneur.com/franchises
Franchising opportunities plus tips on buying/running a franchise

Franchise Direct | franchisedirect.com
Listing of franchises for sale

Franchise Registry | franchiseregistry.com
Listing of companies registered with the SBA available for franchising

Franchising.com | franchising.com
Resource for On-line Franchise Information

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Government Resources – Federal

Code of Federal Regulations | ecfr.gov

Defense Logistics Agency | www.dla.mil/smallbusiness
The Defense Logistics Agency is DOD’s largest combat support agency, providing worldwide logistics support in both peacetime and wartime to the military services as well as several civilian agencies and foreign countries. Find info on selling to the military.

FedBizOpps | fbo.gov
Federal government procurement opportunities above $25,000.

Internal Revenue Service | irs.gov/businesses/small
Tax information for small businesses

Laws & regulations by industry | business.usa.gov
Provides a single access point to government services and information to help the nation’s businesses with their operations.

US Patent & Trademark Office | uspto.gov
Search for patents and trademarks

US Small Business Administration website | sba.gov
An independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns

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Government Resources – North Carolina

ACCESSNC | via nclive.org
Free statistical, analytical and mapping tool designed to aid economic and community development decision making. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

Business Link North Carolina (BLNC) | blnc.gov
Contact BLNC at 1-800-228-8443 or blnc.gov for state license requirements and resource information to start or grow your business.

NC Biotechnology Center | ncbiotech.org
Supports biotechnology research, business and education statewide

NC Department of Commerce | nccommerce.com

NC Rural Databank | ncruralcenter.org/databank/index.html
Statistical information on North Carolina’s rural counties

NC Secretary of State – Corporations Division | secretary.state.nc.us/corporations
Responsible for the examination, custody and maintenance of the legal documents filed by corporations, limited partnerships and limited liability companies in NC

NC State Data Center | via nclive.org
Free population, economic, and income data as well as county profiles and rankings. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

NC State Demographics | via nclive.org
Free state, county, and municipal population estimates and projections by year, age, race, and sex. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

NC State University Industrial Extension Service | www.ies.ncsu.edu
Supports North Carolina business in the workplace – in the office, on the factory floor or in the hospital

REACH NC | ReachNC.org
REACH NC is a Web portal that enables users to search, browse and find thousands of experts and assets within North Carolina higher education and research institutions.

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Human Resources

Employee Benefit Research Institute | ebri.org
Contributes to, encourages, ands enhances the development of sound employee benefit programs and sound public policy through objective research and education.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission | eeoc.gov
Commission which enforces laws protecting against discrimination in employment

Salary.com | salary.com
Benchmark salaries

Society for Human Resource Management | shrm.org
World’s largest professional association devoted to human resource management whose mission is to serve the needs of HR professionals by providing current and comprehensive resources, and to advance the profession by promoting HR’s role.

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Industry Research

ABI/Inform | via nclive.org
Free business research from journals, trade publications, market research reports, dissertations, and working papers.  Can be accessed at no charge using an NC public library card via NC Live or by visiting a local or UNC library.

Encyclopedia of American Industries | ReferenceForBusiness.com/industries/

Industry and Competitive Analysis | Presentation describing industry and competitive analysis process.

NAICS Classification System | census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html
Classification system for industries. Replaces SIC codes.

Valuation Resources | ValuationResources.com
A directory of resources which address subjects such as industry overview, issues, trends, and outlook, industry financial information and financial ratios, and compensation and salary surveys for a wide variety of industries.

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International Trade

Ex-Im bank | exim.gov
Assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets.

Overseas Private Investment Corp. | opic.gov
OPIC helps U.S. businesses invest overseas, fosters economic development in new and emerging markets, complements the private sector in managing risks associated with foreign direct investment, and supports U.S. foreign policy.

US Trade & Development Agency | ustda.gov
Advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, early investment analysis, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment.

World Fact Book | cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook
Detailed information about countries of the world including political and economic aspects

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Legal

FindLaw | FindLaw.com
Legal information for lawyers and general public, including case law, statutes, lawyer search

LawHelpNC | via nclive.org
Find information and links to legal rights, the law, the courts, legal forms and more.  This site can be accessed at no charge using your NC public card via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

Martindale | martindale.com
Directory of lawyers

The Red Book (NC Licenses and Permits) | nccommerce.com/en/BusinessServices/StartYourBusiness/BusinessLicensesPermits/
Lists the licenses and permits needed for businesses in NC

NC Legal Forms | uslegalforms.com/north-carolina/

US Patent and Trademark Office | uspto.gov
Search US patents dating back to 1790; apply for patents and trademarks; learn about patents, trademarks, and copyrights, how they differ and how to get started.

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Market Research

Annual Reports | AnnualReports.com
Online access to annual reports

13 Best Tools for Conducting Market Research | business.com

Conducting Market Research? Here are Five Official Sources of Free Data that Can Help
From the SBA Blog on Starting a Business

Conducting Market Research | from Entrepreneur Magazine
Provides critical information about conducting research on the market viability of your product or service.

Market Research References and Tools | NAICS Associations guide to the ten best free online market-research tools.

Marketresearch.com | MarketResearch.com
Reports that can be purchased about your market or industry

Quirks | quirks.com
Magazine for market researchers

Securities and Exchange Commission | www.sec.gov
Corporate filings

Valuation Resources | ValuationResources.com/IndustryReport.htm
Free industry reports

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Marketing

American Marketing Association | MarketingPower.com
Resources for marketers and advertisers

The Four P’s of Marketing | An excellent resource from Purdue University

M Plans | mplans.com
Choose from several free marketing plans or purchase others

Writing a Market Plan | The Ingredients of a Marketing Plan
From Entrepreneur Magazine.

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Primary Research Tools

A number of user-friendly, low- and no-fee resources are available to help you conduct electronic surveys of customers and targeted prospects.

Ask Your Target Market | aytm.com
Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) is more sophisticated software than some of the low-cost options.  For a fee, AYTM provides live support, helps identify survey pools, and provides  guidance in survey development.

Google Consumer Surveys | google.com/insights/consumersurveys
Pricing is per completed response, but they also offer project-based options (down to helping select color choices and format options) as well as Website questionnaires.

Mail Chimp | mailchimp.com
Free and low-cost options.

SurveyGizmo | surveygizmo.com
Free and low-cost options.

SurveyMonkey | surveymonkey.com
Free and low-cost options; extremely popular and easy to use.

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Publications

2014 North Carolina Small Business Handbook | businessnc.epubxp.com/t/150985
The 2014 North Carolina Small Business Handbook includes tips for North Carolina’s businesses in the areas of finance, human resources, marketing, government sales, and expansion. It also provides details on business assistance resources like the SBTDC.

BusinessWeek | BusinessWeek.com
Weekly magazine containing information useful to entrepreneurs

CEO Express | CEOexpress.com
Gateway to online business magazines

Harvard Business Review | hbr.org
Online version of HBR which provides summaries of articles in print edition

USA Today – Money | usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness
Online magazine with articles of interest to small business owners

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Science and Technology

American National Standards Institute | ansi.org
Has standards information and links to standards sites.

Association of University Technology Managers | autm.org
Promotes, supports and improves academic technology transfer worldwide and demonstrate its benefits globally through education, advocacy, networking and communication.

National Technical Information Service | ntis.gov
Has science, technology and business information.

US Patent and Trademark Office | uspto.gov
Protect intellectual property by patenting

Tracking Innovation Report  | nccommerce.com/scitech/resources/innovation-reports
Report released by the N.C. Board of Science and Technology highlights key trends and themes to be considered when undertaking efforts to promote economic opportunity throughout the state.

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Search Engine Optimization

The Ultimate Guide to Market Research and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)MarketResearch.com
This white paper provides an overview of SEO and insights on how your Website and e-commerce marketing efforts can be managed and monitored.  An introduction to some basic marketing principles as they relate in a digital environment and definitions of new vocabularies and technologies.

GoogleAnalytics | google.com/analytics/#/small-business
Harness the power of your Website with this free resource for SEO.

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Social Media

Facebook for Business | facebook.com/business

Instagram for Business | business.instagram.com/blog/

Pinterest for Business | business.pinterest.com

Social Media for Small Business Guide | ducttapemarketing.com/socialmediaforbusiness.pdf
This eBook breaks social media down into easy-to-understand pieces to help make sense of and make use of social media as a tool to help grow a business.

Twitter 101 for Business | business.twitter.com
Has standards information and links to standards sites.

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Starting a Business

Business Startup & Resource Webinar

Statistics

ACCESSNC | via nclive.org
Free statistical, analytical and mapping tool designed to aid economic and community development decision making. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

American Factfinder | factfinder.census.gov
Run guided queries using pre-built functions and formulas.

American Factfinder Quick Facts | census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/00
QuickFacts provides statistics for all states and counties, and for cities and towns with a populations of 5,000 or more.

Bureau of Labor Statistics | bls.gov
Free resource from US Government provides a wide array of statistics in the broad fields of labor, economics, and statistics.

County Business Patterns | census.gov/econ/cbp/
An annual series that provides subnational economic data by industry. Businesses use the data for analyzing market potential, measuring the effectiveness of sales and advertising programs, setting sales quotas, and developing budgets.

FEDStats | fedstats.gov
Gateway to federally collected stats

NC Rural Databank | ncruralcenter.org/databank/index.html
Statistical information on North Carolina’s rural counties

NC State Data Center | via nclive.org
Free population, economic, and income data as well as county profiles and rankings. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

NC State Demographics | via nclive.org
Free state, county, and municipal population estimates and projections by year, age, race, and sex. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

Statistical Abstract of the United States | census.gov/compendia/statab/
Summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.

U.S. Census | census.gov
Main census website

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