As you know, there are many choices when it comes to research. We’ve tried to take some of the guess work out of the process by providing our “best choices” in 10 different business planning and research categories. All are FREE.
Each tool included has been researched by the MSU Business Library and/or recommended by Northern Lakes Economic Alliance Business Counseling Team. Look for additional tools to be added and we appreciate your feedback so we can update/add/delete to make the page more useful.
Categories Include: (scroll down for content)
|Business Plans||Competitor Information||Customer Profiles & Demographics|
|Financial Data||Sources of Capital||Market Research|
|Industry Analysis||Trade Assoc. & Trade Shows||Local Economic Data|
- BPlans.com-Hundreds of categorized sample business plans
- Business Plan Preparation-Business plan tools, templates and samples
- SBA's Business Planning Resources-U.S. Small Business Association's guide to business plan writing
- SBDCNet Business Plans-The Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse
- SCORE Business Plan for a Start-Up-"How to" guide from the Service Corps of Retired Executives
- Financial Projection Templates (SCORE) - Numerous Excel templates including balance sheet, profit & loss statement, financial ratio, amoritization schedule, and financial diagnostics.
Identifying and learning about competitors in small communities can be difficult and may require a great deal of primary research (i.e. talking directly to people in the local business community). The secondary sources listed here are a good place to start:
Customer Profiles and Demographics
- American FactFinder-Population, housing, economic and geographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau
- BizMiner-Reports on more than 16,000 lines of business in national and local markets
Sources of Capital
- Credit Unions-Connects entrepreneurs and small businesses with local credit unions to secure financing
- Northern Initiatives-Provides rural entrepreneurs with access to capital, information and markets
- Northern Shores Loan Fund-Assists local entrepreneurs with loan funding and business education
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Partners with the private sector to provide financial assistance
- Economic Census-U.S. Census Bureau's economic profiler of U.S. national and local economies
Trade Associations and Trade Shows
Local Economic Data
- County Business Patterns-From the U.S. Census Bureau
- YourEconomy.org-Details business performance from a local to a national perspective
- Michigan Labor Market Information-Michigan employment, wage, detailed industry, and job trends
- NWMCOG-Northwest Lower Michigan county, township, city, village and school statistics
- Guide to Starting a Business in Michigan - From the Michigan Economic Development Corporation
- Michigan Electronic Library (MeL) Business & Jobs Gateway - Business resources and job search aids
- The MORE Program - “Fast Track” access to resources required to develop and market new ideas for business.