Entrepreneur.com had this article in late December, and we thought it might be worth reblogging; we’ve edited it a bit for clarity and length. The heart of validating an idea is market research, and these sites are all free. We have more in our Validating Your Idea at www.theasoe.com.
1. Survey Monkey Basic. Excellent way of getting marketing survey results, but the downside is that you disclose part of your ideas to the web. There are upgrades available. www.surveymonkey.com.
2. BizStats. Another free service, www.bizstats.com, with business statistics and financial data for various industries. The various filters help you find financial information about other companies in your field that are of similar size. The site also provides calculators and other tools to help you understand profit/risk ratios, cost of goods sold and valuation factors for your business. You can also use it to determine what you should be spending on advertising and your inventory turnover ratios.
3. SEC filings. These are public filings made by public companies, and are useful primarily for market market and competitive analysis.
4. Zoom prospector, website www.zoomprospector.com. Useful for site location, based on a network of communities. You need to understand your target customer, either projected or actual to answer the questions.
5. Free Lunch, website www.economy.com/freelunch, owned by Moody’s. Economic demographic and financial data, covering everything from consumer and labor markets to gross domestic product and inventory ratios. Also has insight into economic and population trends.
6. Hoover’s Free Edition, website www.hoovers.com, owned by Dun & Bradstreet. A searchable collection of company listings, with an overview of the company and its markets. Good for searching for prospects. The Hoover’s Lead Builder isn’t free, but it promises to deliver b2b leads matching your criteria for as little as 34 cents apiece.
7. US Census Bureau, website www.census.gov. Huge database of macroeconomic data, based on the US Census. Can be difficult to use, but there’s a hotline, 1-866-564-5431.
8. mPact, website www.mympact.com. A scoring index of online influence and a tracker of social media topics. If you sign in with one of your social media accounts, you’ll get a report that includes your online influence score — a measure of your social media connections and how often your content is reposted — as well as a list of influential social media users in your areas of interest. Topic searches reveal what people are saying online about your brand — or just about anything else.