Successful entrepreneurs such as Tesla founder Elon Musk are glorified as bold risk-takers. People sing Musk’s praises for his gamble in investing his $180 million Paypal proceeds to three separate companies. For Musk, however, the multi-million dollar deals were not gambles. He knew the facts were on his side. As a result, his three companies now have a combined value of over $23 billion.
Don’t let the hype blind you because successful entrepreneurs grow their business by seeing trends before everybody else. Stay ahead of the curve with these small business data sources.
1. The U.S. Small Business Administration
The site hosts a collection of resources which provides free access to data gathered by the US government about business and economic statistics. Small business data is broken into the following categories:
Provides an overview of small business profiles for each state and for the entire country with information on employment, income and finance, business owner demographics, business turnover, and small businesses by industry and by county. The report has been published annually since 2009.
Provides a collection of information relevant to small businesses such as establishment startups and exits, credit card financing and small business, and employment trends for new businesses.
A series of specialized reports focusing on various entrepreneur profiles such as the millennial entrepreneur, the senior entrepreneur, and the immigrant entrepreneur.
2. The U.S. Census Bureau
Census.gov maintains a huge repository of data about the country’s people and the economy. Researchers have access to the following data on the website:
Provides annual measures of business dynamics like job creation and destruction, company births and deaths, and establishment startups and shutdowns.
Provides information on a number of economic and demographic attributes such as gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status of business owners.
Data in this report was put together by the U.S. Census Bureau spanning from 2006 to 2015. The data covers expenses involved for new and used equipment and structures by all U.S. nonfarm companies. ACES closely examines the investment shares over time to observe which industries are growing or shrinking and where capital markets and firms see the greatest investment opportunity.
The report looks at the educational attainment of the adult population by demographic and social characteristics such as age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, and disability status. It also looks at differences in educational attainment between people born in the US versus people born in other countries. Historical data to illustrate a number of general trends over time is included as well.
This report shows information on median household income and the Gini index of income inequality according to the 2014 and 2015 American Community Surveys (ACS).
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics
BLS is the leading source of quality data for labor economics and statistics. It offers access to information highly relevant to the establishment and successful operations of businesses such as current employment statistics, census of employment and wages, labor force trends, and consumer spending habits through the following reports:
The monthly report surveys over 147,000 businesses and government agencies to provide comprehensive data on employment, hours, and earnings of employees for all 50 states.
The monthly survey of households provides detailed data on employment, labor force, unemployment, individuals not in the labor force, hours of work, earnings as well as labor force and demographic characteristics.
Labor productivity is a measure of economic performance that compares the amount of goods and services produced (output) with the number of hours worked to produce those goods and services.
The quarterly report provides change over time in labor costs and also measuring level of average cost per hour worked.
The annual report shows integrated data in the form of tables such as average expenditures, income, and characteristics for consumer units classified in various categories. The Consumer Expenditure Survey pinpoints spending patterns and examines changes in expenditure for the year.
Kauffman Foundation is one of largest foundations in the country founded by Ewing Marion Kauffman whose vision is to cultivate an economically independent society. The foundation annually releases the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship series measuring US entrepreneurship across various geographic levels through the following reports:
The report offers a broad index measure of business startup activity in the country. It is a weighted index of three normalized measures of startup activity:
- The Rate of New Entrepreneurs is calculated as the percentage of adults becoming entrepreneurs in a particular month.
- The Opportunity Share of New Entrepreneurs is calculated as the percentage of new entrepreneurs motivated by opportunity as opposed to necessity.
- The Startup Density is measured as the number of new employer businesses standardized by the business population in total.
The report considers three components of local, small business activity: the rate of businesses owners in the economy, the 5-year survival rate of businesses, and the established small business density.
Calculations are derived from the Current Population Survey, with sample sizes of over 900,000 observations, in addition to the Business Dynamics Statistics, covering roughly five million businesses.
The study considers three components of entrepreneurial business growth: the rate of startup growth, the share of scale-ups, and high growth company density.
The calculations are derived from the Business Dynamics Statistics which covers roughly five million companies and Inc. 5000 data which is the magazine’s annual ranking of the fastest-growing companies in the country.
5. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
FDIC offers data on private sector loans to small businesses. They have the following report available for download:
Provides comprehensive aggregate data for all FDIC-insured companies including loans to small businesses and small farms.
6. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
With over 2 million annotations across a hundred countries, GEM’s historical and global datasets are very comprehensive.
This report provides high quality information by tracking rates of entrepreneurship globally across several stages and gauging its characteristics along with the motivations and ambitions of business owners.
7. The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute
GEDI is a research institute which seeks to promote knowledge regarding the links between prosperity, entrepreneurship, and economic development.
This report is released annually and measures the overall health of entrepreneurship environments in 137 participating nations. Ranking the performance of countries against each other, GEDI offers an image of how each country performs domestically and internationally.
HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services companies that caters to over 37 million clients.
The financial institution recently released this report which seeks to understand the components and characteristics that make a successful entrepreneur. The report investigates an entrepreneur’s personal motivation, background, experience, and culture.
Indeed is the most comprehensive search engine for jobs. They recently launched the Indeed Hiring Lab which studies the wealth of information accessible from Indeed in conjunction with government and independent research. Indeed Hiring Lab focuses on large-scale labor research projects along with tracking and analysis of employment trends through these reports:
Indeed compares people’s current location with their actual job searches to come up with data that provides a picture of workforce movement. The study reveals the interests and intents of job seekers, uncovering opportunities for business owners to attract and retain candidates and understand why and where people move to find jobs.
Examining anonymous data of more than 400,000 employed job hunters on Indeed, the study answers the following questions about job seekers: which jobs they’re leaving, which ones are they taking, and which factors influence their decision. The insights from this report can help organizations formulate informed decisions to attract high-caliber talent.
10. Wasp Barcode
Wasp Barcode, a leading provider of barcode hardware and software, helps its customers answer challenging business questions through their report:
The company randomly selected 1,000 small business respondents from various industries. The report was able to collect data from entrepreneurs on topics such as confidence in the economy, business challenges, hiring plans, staffing requirements, marketing strategies, government influence, changes in IT expenses, and application.
11. Business Insider
Business Insider is an online publication specializing in business, finance and tech. Since 2014, they’ve been publishing the following survey:
The study involving over 200 founders, CEOs, presidents, partners explores what empowers and challenges business owners. The respondents give their inputs about their optimism for the upcoming year and how they see the importance of technology to remain competitive.
First Round Network is a platform connecting founders and decision-makers. The result is a digital community that offers access to fascinating data including:
The study involves more than 700 founders weighing in on topics such as leadership, recruitment, revenues, culture, fundraising, investments, and exits. The company has been conducting the study every year since 2015.
The company focuses solely on small businesses to facilitate the acceleration of their growth through technology, sales, marketing plans, and community building.
This annual report is a survey of 1,000 American small business owners regarding their goals, tactics, and challenges for the upcoming year. The study seeks to answer the following questions:
- What are small business owners hoping to achieve with their marketing in 2017?
- What are they struggling with?
- Which tactics are small businesses using to meet their goals, and which do they see as most important to their business?
- How can small businesses leverage digital marketing tactics and tools to stay ahead of the competition?
14. The National Federation of Independent Business
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) consists of 325,000 small businesses in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The federation works to endorse policies that foster small business success. The NFIB publishes the following survey:
This is a monthly survey of its members to measure the following factors:
- Optimism Index
- Labor Markets
- Capital Spending
- Compensation and Earnings
- Credit Markets
15. Bank of America Newsroom
As one of the world’s leading financial firms, Bank of America serves individual consumers in addition to small and middle-market businesses as well as large corporations providing a wide range of financial services from banking to risk management. Bank of America publishes the following semiannual report:
This report reveals the thoughts of entrepreneurs around the country on the following topics:
- Economic Confidence
- Growth Plans
- Revenue Outlooks
- Credit Plans
- Job Satisfaction
16. Babson College
The independent and not-for-profit academic institution recently released the following report:
Its purpose is to promote knowledge, ideas to cultivate a healthy entrepreneurial environment, contribute to small business growth and job creation in the country. The report looks closely at challenges and opportunities that small business owners face such as access to capital, regulatory environment, workforce, and technology.
The developer and marketer of software products for inbound marketing and sales has been publishing the following report since 2010:
The study highlights the highest concerns, priorities faced by marketers and sales professionals nowadays. In addition, State of Inbound offers a peek into future trends and technologies that will influence the way business is conducted.
Knowing your market better than your competitor not only keeps you ahead of the pack, it also gives you the opportunity to predict the next economic trends. What do you think about these small business data sources? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.