Online Business Resources

Information is the key to good business decisions. In today’s world, there is an abundance of information freely available on the Web. The following websites have been selected to assist you with your business research activities. They are arranged in categories to help you expedite your search. Note that the opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the websites’ producer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBTDC.

For additional information, feasibility studies, or detailed market research and analysis, contact your regional SBTDC office.


Associations – Directories

ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Member Trade Associations  | The ANSI portal allow you to search by name, ICS codes, and industry sector. This listing includes associations that contribute to US standards and conformity assessments.

Directory of Associations | Search from over 35,000 local, regional, national, and international associations.

Industry Trade Groups | Hundreds of industry trade groups and associations are listed alphabetically at Wikipedia with live links to each association’s Website.


Associations – Business

American Marketing Association | The world’s largest and most comprehensive professional society of marketers.

Biotechnology Industry Organization | The mission of BIO is to be the champion of biotechnology and the advocate for its member organizations –both large and small.

National Restaurant The leading business association for the restaurant industry.

National Retail Federation | The world’s largest retail trade association.



Biz Stats | Compare your company performance to others in the same industry.

Bureau of Labor Statistics | Information on wages; occupational descriptions, unemployment, consumer pricing and cost indexes.

Fintel Compare your company to others in the industry based on 9 core ratios.


Business Plans

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh | Business Plans Index Guide to business plans by type of business.

Entrepreneur Magazine has a wealth of useful information about business plan writing. Two helpful articles:

Business Plans: A Step-by-Step Guide is a “how to” for writing your plan along with the business rationale for doing so. The article provides templates, sample plans, and links to plan-writing software.

How to Write A Business Plan provides necessary information about the proper formatting of your business plan.

SBA Business Plan Basics | step by step instructions for creating a business plan from the SBA.

SCORE Business Plan TemplateBusiness Plan Template Preferred by counselors, SCORE offers a variety of business plan templates and tools.

Template from Purdue University | Business Plan Template An excellent template that covers all necessary topics for use in creating a business plan.


Competitive Intelligence

A Selective Resource Guide | View Guide Articles on competitive intelligence.

Hoover’s Company Profiles | via Free information on over 40,000 companies, including company overview, industry information, leadership and historical financials. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

Reference USA | via Free reference and research tool providing real-time access to accurate, in-depth information on 24 million US businesses and 234 million US residents.  Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

Securities & Exchange Commission | Search for required filings of publicly traded corporations.



Here are some external articles with useful information on small business CyberSecurity.


Demographics / Psychographics

Free Demographic Reports | Free demographic market analysis reports from Alteryx Analytics Gallery.

Melissa Data | Free address information for businesses and individuals.

State Data Center | via Free population, demographics, economic, and income data as well as county profiles and rankings. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

US Census Bureau | provides detailed, demographic information including population, age and sex, health, education, race, housing, income and the economy. Map your data using census mapping.

Visit these two Census bureau sites to explore data and for quick-facts:



Amazon OnLine Selling | Learn how to start selling with a website by using Amazon.

Etsy Seller Handbook | Advice and inspiration for running an Etsy shop.


Economic Development

NC Commerce Site Search | Sites and Locations Information for site selectors considering NC as a business location.


Employee Ownership Options

Becoming Employee

National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) Non-profit association providing information for companies who are considering an employee ownership program or for guidance and resources for managing an existing plan.

North Carolina Employee Ownership Center (NCEOC) Resources for Employee Ownership for North Carolina companies and employees.

Project An organization to help businesses and communities discover the power of employee ownership.

Read case studies from Owner-Retires or Owner-Stays:

SBA Office of Financial Assistance | The SBA Employee Trusts program provides financial assistance to Employee Stock Ownership Programs and can assist qualified employee trusts that meet the necessary requirements with their 7(a) loan program.

The ESOP Founded in 1979, the ESOP Association is a trade association representing companies with Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and professionals, such a accountants, attorneys, and trustees/fiduciaries who provide services for them.


Financing Resources

SBA-Financing | Describes loan availability, eligibility, sources of grants.



Entrepreneur Magazine-Franchise Opportunities | Franchising opportunities plus tips on buying/running a franchise.

Franchise Direct | Listing of franchises for sale.

Franchise Registry | Listing of companies registered with the SBA available for franchising. | Resource for On-line Franchise Information.


Federal Government Resources

Code of Federal Regulations |

Defense Logistics The Defense Logistics Agency’s office of Small Business Programs is committed to providing all categories of small business an opportunity to participate in DLA acquisitions. This site contains information to inform and educate small businesses about DLA requirements and procurement practices. It provides worldwide logistics support.

Fed Contract Opportunities | Federal government procurement opportunities above $25,000.

Internal Revenue Service | Tax information for small businesses.

Laws & Regulations by Industry | Provides a single access point to government services and information to help the nation’s businesses with their operations.

US Patent & Trademark Office | Search for patents and trademarks.

US Small Business Administration website | An independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns.


State Government Resources

NC Biotechnology Center | Supports biotechnology research, business and education statewide.

NC Department of Commerce |

NC Secretary of State – Corporations Division | Responsible for the examination, custody and maintenance of the legal documents filed by corporations, limited partnerships and limited liability companies in NC.

NC State Data Center | via Free population, demographic, economic, and income data as well as county profiles and rankings. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

NC State University Industrial Extension Service | Supports North Carolina business in the workplace – in the office, on the factory floor or in the hospital.


Human Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics | The BLS compiles information on pricing, unemployment, pay & benefits, workplace injuries and import and export data.

General salary and wage information by area and occupation is also available.

Employee Benefit Research Institute | Contributes to, encourages, ands enhances the development of sound employee benefit programs and sound public policy through objective research and education.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission | Commission which enforces laws protecting against discrimination in employment. |
Indeed provides local and regional salary information compiled from job listings they have posted during previous twelve months. | Benchmark salaries.

Society for Human Resource Management | World’s largest professional association devoted to human resource management whose mission is to serve the needs of HR professionals by providing current and comprehensive resources, and to advance the profession by promoting HR’s role.


Industry Research

ABI/Inform | via Free business research from journals, trade publications, market research reports, dissertations, and working papers. Can be accessed at no charge using an NC public library card via NC Live or by visiting a local or UNC library.

Encyclopedia of American Industries |

Industry and Competitive Analysis | Presentation (PDF) describing industry and competitive analysis process.

NAICS Classification System | Classification system for industries. Replaces SIC codes.

Valuation Resources | A directory of resources which address subjects such as industry overview, issues, trends, and outlook, industry financial information and financial ratios, and compensation and salary surveys for a wide variety of industries.


International Trade

Ex-Im bank | Assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation| OPIC helps U.S. businesses invest overseas, fosters economic development in new and emerging markets, complements the private sector in managing risks associated with foreign direct investment, and supports U.S. foreign policy.

US Trade & Development Agency | Advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, early investment analysis, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment.

World Fact Book | Detailed information about countries of the world including political and economic aspects.


FindLaw | Legal information for lawyers and general public, including case law, statutes, lawyer search.

Martindale | Directory of lawyers.

NC Legal Forms |

The Red Book (NC Licenses and Permits) | Lists the licenses and permits needed for businesses in NC.

US Patent and Trademark Office | Search US patents dating back to 1790; apply for patents and trademarks; learn about patents, trademarks, and copyrights, how they differ and how to get started.


Manufacturer Resources

Business Alliance of North Carolina |

CMTC Manufacturing Blog | View the article While the organization was formed to support and advise California manufacturers, this link will take you to a wide variety of free and low-cost resources available to small and mid-size manufacturers nationwide.

Industry Week list of Manufacturing Associations |

North Carolina Chamber | The exclusive state affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

North Carolina Food Processing & Manufacturing |

North Carolina Manufacturing Institute (NCMI) | The North Carolina Manufacturing Institute initiative was conceived in the summer of 2014 during meetings with leaders from Rowan and Cabarrus counties, the Centralina Workforce Development Board and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. Their goal is to build a world-class talent pool to support the retention and growth of regional manufacturers.

The NCMI endorses the Certified Production Technician (CPT) program through the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council.

North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership |


Market Research

Annual Reports | Online access to annual reports.

13 Best Tools for Conducting Market Research |

Conducting Market Provides critical information about conducting research on the market viability of your product or service. | Reports that can be purchased about your market or industry.

Online Market Research References and Tools | View the article Free online tools for every “hands-on” marketer.

Quirks | Magazine for market researchers.

Securities and Exchange Commission | Corporate filings.

Valuation Resources | Free industry reports.



American Marketing Association | Resources for marketers and advertisers.

Digital Marketing 101: The core things that every marketer (or business professional) needs to understand | Provides easy to understand definitions of key digital marketing terminology collected by BootCampDigital, an online social media training company.

Digital marketing.  What it is and why it matters | Brief description and discussion of digital marketing from SAS.

The Four P’s of Marketing | An excellent resource from Purdue University

M Plans | Choose from several free marketing plans or purchase others.

Moving Toward a Digital, Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy | A SAS white paper on digital marketing.

The Ultimate Marketing Machine |Summarizes the results of the Harvard Business Review Marketing 2020 study identifying the attributes of a high-performance marketing organization.

Writing a Market Plan | The Ingredients of a Marketing Plan From Entrepreneur Magazine.


Primary Research Tools

A number of user-friendly, low- and no-fee resources are available to help you conduct electronic surveys of customers and targeted prospects.

Ask Your Target Market | Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) is more sophisticated software than some of the low-cost options. For a fee, AYTM provides live support, helps identify survey pools, and provides guidance in survey development.

Google Consumer Surveys | Pricing is per completed response, but they also offer project-based options (down to helping select color choices and format options) as well as Website questionnaires.

Alchemer | Free and low-cost options.

SurveyMonkey | Free and low-cost options; extremely popular and easy to use.


Science and Technology

American National Standards Institute | Has standards information and links to standards sites.

Association of University Technology Promotes, supports and improves academic technology transfer worldwide and demonstrate its benefits globally through education, advocacy, networking and communication.

National Technical Information Service | Has science, technology and business information.

US Patent and Trademark Office | Protect intellectual property by patenting.

Tracking Innovation Report | View Report Report released by the N.C. Board of Science and Technology highlights key trends and themes to be considered when undertaking efforts to promote economic opportunity throughout the state.


(SEO) Search Engine Optimization

The Ultimate Guide to Market Research and SEOView White Paper This white paper provides an overview of SEO and insights on how your Website and e-commerce marketing efforts can be managed and monitored. An introduction to some basic marketing principles as they relate in a digital environment and definitions of new vocabularies and technologies.

Google Analytics | Harness the power of your Website with this free resource for SEO.


Social Media

Facebook for Business |

Instagram for Business |

Moving Toward a Digital, Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy | A SAS white paper on digital marketing.

Pinterest for Business |

Twitter 101 for Business | Has standards information and links to standards sites.

The Ultimate Marketing Machine | View Report Summarizes the results of the Harvard Business Review Marketing 2020 study identifying the attributes of a high-performance marketing organization.



American Quick Facts | View Quick Facts QuickFacts provides statistics for all states and counties, and for cities and towns with a populations of 5,000 or more. Show side-to-side comparisons for up to five different locations; download charts.

Bureau of Labor Statistics | Free resource from US Government provides a wide array of statistics in the broad fields of labor, economics, and statistics.

County Business PatternsView Data An annual series that provides subnational economic data by industry. Businesses use the data for analyzing market potential, measuring the effectiveness of sales and advertising programs, setting sales quotas, and developing budgets. Additional information can be found utilizing American Quick Facts comparisons.

Explore Census Data | Find popular facts (population, income, etc.) and frequently requested date about your community. Run guided queries using pre-built functions and formulas.

Federal Gateway to federally collected stats.

NC State Data Center | via Free population, demographics, economic, and income data as well as county profiles and rankings. Use your NC public library card to access online via NC LIVE or visit your local public or UNC library for assistance.

U.S. Census | Main census website.