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The Best Market Research for Indiana Entrepreneurs. Period.

Jun 3rd, 2011

Jacob Schpok – I have yet to find a private or public organization across the state that offers a better collection of market research databases for business owners than the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC). Every day, our resources give Indiana entrepreneurs the tools to compete against big box stores and their in-house market analysis.

Here’s Why We Have It
Our mission is to have a positive and measurable impact on the formation, growth, and sustainability of small businesses in Indiana, and to develop a strong entrepreneurial community. A key way we serve our mission is by helping businesses develop and implement strategic plans. Every strategic plan has at least three components, 1) the mission or purpose of the business, 2) the key objectives, and 3) the tactics used to fulfill the objectives and consequently fulfill the mission. It’s up to the entrepreneur to provide the mission or reasoning behind starting and running a business. Developing business objectives and tactics require research and eliminating market assumptions.

Let’s say, for example, I want to start a business selling gourmet flavored toothpicks. The first step is to research the toothpicks that my customers want. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been chomping on toothpicks my whole life; I am still only one consumer with my own point of view on how a toothpick should taste and feel. Heck, I might be the only one who would want toothpicks to taste like chocolate cake. The only way to know this is by researching my market and eliminating assumptions.

Few (if any) can provide better assistance at helping business owners eliminating assumptions about their industry, new technology, direct competitors, potential customers, and consumer buying behaviors than the ISBDC. Below are examples of a few resources ISBDC Business Advisors use to help clients move from pre-business entrepreneurs to start-up business owners and from small business owners to market leaders. It’s how we helped our clients raised over $60 million in capital during 2010.

Here’s What We Have
FirstResearch, a division of Hoovers, develops industry reports which are updated quarterly and includes industry trends and business challenges defined by industry leaders (CEOs, COO, etc.). ISBDC clients, working on their strategic plan, can receive these reports for free. These are the same reports banks use when evaluating business loans.

ESRI has been called “The Walmart of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)”. They purchase and develop census statistics from local, state, and federal governments, as well as private sector surveyors. Want to know how many people – within a five minute drive-time from where you sit – ate at a family restaurant or steak house during the last 6 months? We can do you one better. We can tell you how many ate there less than two times, 2-4 times, or more than 5 times during the last six months. We can even tell you how many ate at Applebee’s if you want to know. ISBDC clients, working on their strategic plan, can receive these reports for free. These are the same reports corporate retailers, such as Levi Strauss & Co., uses when opening a new store.

Foresight Science and Technology, out of Providence Rhode Island, is a leader in evaluating the commercialization potential of emerging technology. ISBDC clients can receive market overview reports to help evaluate developing markets and opportunities. Foresight clients include NASA, the Army Research Laboratory, Honeywell, and, of course, the ISBDC. A sample report can be found here.

We also have access to Hoover’s Dun and Brandstreet database for prospect list building, The Business Reference Guide database to help evaluate business buying and selling decisions, and benchmark data through Sageworks, the leader in the financial analysis of privately-held companies. All free to ISBDC clients working on their strategic plans.

Our Business Advisors have the know how to help clients develop solid strategic plans and the tools to give even the most skeptical investor confidence in a well researched market. All we ask for are clients that are willing to put in the time and effort to craft and implement a sound strategic plan, accomplish tactics, achieve objections, and fulfill missions. As long as the client is motivated and working, we are there to help.

Are You Motivated to Grow Your Business?
If you’re ready, take our online assessment. We require many of our pre-business entrepreneurs and those who have not been in business for more than one year to first take a two hour Launching Your Own Business workshop to brush-up on the fundaments of business ownership. With the completion of this workshop, you and your ISBDC Business Advisor will start working through your strategic plan and tap into all the resources listed above. Entrepreneurs who have been in business for more than one year will be contacted after finishing the online assessment to setup a time to meet with a nearby Business Advisor.


Jacob Schpok is the Programming Director Indiana Small Business Development Center, an organization with the mission of having a positive and measurable impact on the formation, growth, and sustainability of small businesses in Indiana, and to develop a strong entrepreneurial community. Jacob can be reached at jschpok@isbdc.org.