Small business entrepreneurs and managers need low cost tools to help them conduct small business research. Luckily, there are more and more free and inexpensive tools available today. Check out this top ten list, which includes a variety of tools covering different types of research that small businesses need to be successful.
Selling a business? BizEx provides a handy calculator allowing you to choose a good selling price for your business. Just enter your details into this online calculator and presto, see what your business is worth.
This newly released tool is probably the best software ever offered by the Census Bureau—and it is totally free. Using raw Census data can be cumbersome, so the folks at the Census built this tool to put all their valuable data at your fingertips. Just a few clicks and they can tell you about demographics, consumer spending, and competitors. All which are invaluable for small business research.
An alternative the Census tool, Neilsen’s provides a segmentation tool that allows you to check out summary statistics about consumers in a given location.
Sizeup was launched by the Small Business Administration back in 2013 and has now spun out into a separate company. Sizeup allows an entrepreneur to quickly look at the customers and competitors in a particular location. You can run a search for free, but you need to pay a bit to get the full features.
Want to start a business, but also want to leverage and existing brand and business processes? FranchiseGator lets you search a location to see what franchise opportunities are available. Use them to learn about franchise costs and to compare opportunities.
You can use Buybizsell to check out thousands of business for sale listings, but you can also use their business valuation reports to decide how much you should pay when buying a business, or how much to ask for when selling a business. From $20-$60, this low cost tool will compare your focal business to several others like it that have recently sold, giving you pretty good approximation of the value of the business you are interested in. Works like a home appraisal.
Need to survey your potential customers? Survey Monkey allows you to create a survey and run it for free. You can pay for extra features too, making this a great low cost market research tool for small business research.
Need an audience for your survey? Cint provides a tailored audience of respondents for you survey. Get respondents for around $1 to $2 a piece. Nearly all major markets are covered! Cint is an alternative to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which is also often used to get survey respondents.
Google’s Keyword Planner helps you find keywords to target when designing your website and doing your digital marketing. Don’t just go for the hit words, check out the long tail of keywords by looking up phrases that have low competition, but are still searched for, all for free.
Curious about what is trending online? Google Trends lets you chart topics people are searching for to see what is heating up and what is fading away. Use it to optimize your marketing messages and product offerings.
Up and coming tools:
Of course, no list would be complete without plugging our own product. LaunchScore uses big data to estimate the profitability of over 800 business types in 750 cities. This free tool is great for deciding what type of business to start, or when to start it. Entrepreneurs use the site to validate their assumptions and to open their horizons—all for free.
Although Hitmap is still in beta, it is easy to see the value that the tool brings. Combining commercial real-estate for sales data with local factors data, Hitmap allows you check out the value of an expansion opportunity and to compare various locations in a market with ease.