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Links to background material about small businesses

Here are links to some of the resources I've been using in my research about small businesses in the USA. (This is the companion page to my essay "Small Business and Web Sites".)

Census data top page: This is the home page for the economic reports of the US Census Bureau from 1997 (there are new reports every five years).

Census data details: 1997 Economic Census: Summary Statistics for United States 1997 NAICS Basis: Lists of types of businesses that have payrolls. Click on the big down arrows on the left of each row to see detail. Click on the description titles to get fuller descriptions. Includes the number of each type of establishment, total sales and payroll in dollars, and number of paid employees. Hundreds and hundreds of types of business in total.

1997 Economic Census Nonemployer Statistics United States: Lists types of businesses along with number of each that have employers other than the tax filer and the number without employees other than the tax filer.

US Census Business Expenditures Survey: Breakdown of expenses for various types of businesses. Lets you see what percent of expenses goes to advertising.

1992 Economic Census Characteristics of Business Owners: Census data in a report (.pdf) that includes the percent of income from the business, percent who had relatives who owned a business (half!), years experience, age, profit, number of different types with receipts, etc.

Individual US Tax Statistics Data by Form Type: The number of IRS forms (e.g., 1040, Schedule C, F, etc.) filed along with total dollars, etc., for 1994-2001, in various formats. Of note: Excel file with numbers from selected years between 1975-2001.


SBA Office of Advocacy: Stats and Research: List of Small Business Administration reports. You may want to start with the FAQ about small business. Note that they use data from government agencies and research companies like IDG, and are a good source of pointers to the raw data.

Inc. Magazine New Economy Almanac: A statistical and informational snapshot of the business world, written in 1997. Includes the numbers of each type of the most popular new businesses.

City of Boston applications for DBA: You can search here for the names of recently registered "Doing Business As" names (try different days a little while ago). This gives you a wonderful micro look into which real businesses are starting. Note that only those that knew they needed to register are listed, though all should, so it may be skewed towards companies with lawyers advising them. (Found by DC Denison of the Boston Globe on July 27, 2001.)

IDC News Release 7/24/01: "Online Small Businesses Top 5 Million, but eCommerce Growth Modest Despite New Generation of Internet Tools, IDC Says." Note that in other reports some research companies like IDC often mix small businesses that use the Internet for their own use (such as for the owner to get driving directions, buy paper clips or other transactions with suppliers, or email) along with using it to conduct business with their own customers. Such reports are produced for companies who sell either types of services.

NY Times quote of IDC's Ray Boggs: E-Commerce Report: EBay Competes for Small Companies: Boggs talks about ecommerce and small business and why it's not happening.

What Small Biz Gets From the Web: E-Commerce Times article quoting Gartner analyst and NFIB researcher.

The Use and Value of Web Sites: National Federation of Independent Business' (NFIB) National Small Business Poll. Lots of statistics about Internet usage, and web site costs and results.

Yellow Pages Publishers Association home page: Industry association provides statistics and other material about this common small business advertising medium.

Local Yellow Pages Revenue: A chart of YPPA data.

Total advertising revenue for various media in 2000: A chart of YPPA data, includes newspaper, TV, cable, etc.

Top 300 Yellow Pages headings by number of references: YPPA data, lists number of references per year for each (e.g., #5 - Pizza: 438.7 million references). Another way to get a feeling for the range of businesses.

Directory Advisors Yellow Pages facts page: Some information about Yellow Pages ads, such as that half of the time people have no particular store or brand in mind when they look something up.

Yellow Pages ad rates in a large city: From a page found on a Pittsburgh, PA, web site.

Wahlstrom Report on Print vs. Yellow Pages Headings: Consultant / agency report talks about how Hotels & Motels is number one category on Internet advertising and #21 & #42 on Yellow Pages advertising.

Information about print media advertising: A Powerpoint presentation from a University of Missouri-St. Louis course.

Ad rates for Community Newspaper Company papers: Details of the costs of advertising in various local papers around Boston.

Ad rates for small radio station: Here are some more: WMCT AM Radio in Tennessee, WLVL AM near Niagra Falls, NY, and WFNX/WALE.

Cost of a sales call: Sales & Marketing Management magazine article about the cost of a personal sales call (around $50-$200+ depending upon what for).

National Restaurant Association: Lots of interesting articles: Marketing costs (Nov 1999), Information on expenses in 1999 (June/July 2001), Industry at a Glance: Recent statistics about the $1 trillion restaurant industry (last item is that half of tableservice-restaurant operators have a web site), 2001 Restaurant Industry Forecast which includes Internet usage information, and more statistics about restaurant expenses (May 2001).

Food Marketing Institute facts: Breakdown of costs in the food marketing business, especially the grocery and supermarket businesses. Advertising is 4%.

As additional, anecdotal research, I watched individuals like workers' compensation lawyer Joyce Davis go through the whole process of getting a domain name, creating a web site, etc., while starting up a small business. (Linking to her site here will hopefully help her get better placement with some of the search engines and is part of the whole process many go through. )

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