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Free Data for Maximizing the Value of Your Business

Logo for NAICS (North American Industry Classi...Image via Wikipedia

Maximizing the value of your business often requires expensive research for about your marketplace and your competition. Much of the information you will need to have is available from one of the many government agencies. Here are some websites:

Market Size

The Census Bureau assigns you a Standard Industrial Code, or the new North
American Industry Classification System number that describes your service or
product. By knowing this number, which may be found at www.census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html, you can tap into:
   1. Zip code, metropolitan, statewide and national economic trends for your industry
   2.The economic analysis for the country as a whole
   3.Detailed content information, such as sectors, programs, or data products, from subject
      specialists at local or federal census bureau offices

Patent Information

Patent and competitive product information can be found at www.uspto.gov. Using a very powerful and extensive keyword search engine, you can search 31 different fields, including competitor's names (under "Assignee Name" in PTO parlance) or product type (under "Abstract"or "Description/Specification") to find:
  1. All the issued patents for those competitors
  2. All the issued patents of your unknown competitors (In other locations and markets)
  3. How a competitive product works
  4. Competitor's "Published Applications" that are undergoing patent review (You
      can comment on their validity)
  5. Patents of products that the competition decided to abandon (and are now
      usable by anyone)
  6. All the locations of both known and unknown competitors
  7. All the key innovators working for your competitors

Competitive Pricing

More than 9,000 contractors offer their products for purchase to various governmental agencies through the General Service Administration's website at www.gsaadvantage.gov. GSA Advantage is fully searchable database by keyword, part number, manufacturer, contractor or contract number, or product classification. The GSA Advantage website will help you find:
   1 .If your product is priced right against your competitors
   2. If your quantity discounts are competitive
   3. If your delivery times are typical
   4. If the additional cost you offer for setup and delivery are competitive
   5. If there are other distribution methods for the competitive products

Other Information Sources

Many other free government data sources exist. Here are just a few:
  1. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (www.bea.gov): GDP by state and industry,
      corporate profits, state and local personal income, et cetera.
  2 .The National Technical Information Service (www.ntis.gov): Information on
      government funded research in your industry
  3.  The U.S. Department of Labor's "America's Career InfoNet" (www.acinet.org): Wage
       data available by occupation for all states and over 300 metro areas.

Enjoy your search.

- Steve Sink

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