Business Plan Resource Support

Section III: Market Research and Analysis
(aka 'The Market')

This section should convince the reader or investor that you truly know your customers. It should convince the reader that your product or service a) will have a substantial market in a growing industry; and b) can achieve sales in the face of competition. For example, the predicted sales levels directly influence such factors as the size of the manufacturing operation, the marketing plan, and the amount of debt and equity capital you will require. Yet most entrepreneurs seem to have great difficulty preparing and presenting market research and analyses that show that their ventures' sales estimates are sound and attainable. Consult industry publications, articles in trade magazines and trade associations to understand how the industry defines, identifies and segments its customers. Then apply yourself creatively by integrating the information in a unique way. (Nuts & Bolts of Great Business Plans)


The Lifestyle Market Analyst
A reference guide for consumer market analysis, prepared by: National Demographics & Lifestyles.

Market Share Reporter
Presents market share data on over four thousand companies and 2500 products and brands.

Household Spending
The latest dollar-for-dollar answers to the questions “Who buys?”, “What do they buy?”, “How much do they spend?”

Internet Resources

Statistical Abstract of the United States
The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published since 1878, is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.

American Factfinder
An easy-to-use portal for obtaining census data. One quick way to retrieve data is to get a “Fact Sheet” on a geographic area (by city, county or zip code), which provides population, medium household income, demographic breakdown (age, gender, race) and other information.

Consumer Expenditure Surveys
This Bureau of Labor Statistics site provides data about consumer spending in the United States. Demographic information such as average number in consumer unit, percent male and female, education level, age and income groups, is detailed along with average annual expenditures consisting of fourteen main categories. Data is available back to 1984 and is sorted by metropolitan statistical areas, regions and other groupings.
Contains detailed information on cities, including median resident age, median household income, ethnic mix of residents and aerial photos.

County Business Patterns
Good resources for looking at business activity, including the number of competitors, at a city, county or state level. For example, you can find the number of dry cleaners (or any other business) in a specific zip code or city.

Hoovers Online
Good resources for looking at business activity, including the number of competitors, at a city, county or state level. For example, you can find the number of dry cleaners (or any other business) in a specific zip code or city.

A very quick way to access census bureau data, including population, median household income, census breakdowns by age and other demographic characteristics.

Standard and Poor’s NetAdvantage
Detailed reports available on hundreds of industries, including industry statistics, trends, buyer behavior and expected returns. Fee based if not available through university library.

Survey of Consumer Finances
This Federal Reserve Bank site offers data and reports from the triennial survey of the balance sheet, pension, income, and other demographic characteristics of U.S. families. The survey also gathers information on the use of financial institutions.

Market Research - Advice & Tips

Business Research Lab
Provides practical tips on topics from designing a marketing research study to the implementation of a study’s findings.

Competitor Analysis Worksheet
Scroll down this page to up-load the competitive analysis worksheet, provided by Entrepreneur Magazine. This form will provide a start-up to identify its main competitors, and compare its attributes against its competitors.

Sales Forecast
This thoughtful article, written by Tim Berry, the founder of Palo Alto Software, the company that produces Business Plan Pro, provides advice on forecasting a business initial sales.


College Info

Warrington College of Business
BRY 100
PO Box 117150
Gainesville, FL 32611-7150
Phone: 352.392.2397
Fax: 352.392.2086

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