Discover this free tool and size up the competition

Research your competitors

There are a lot of jokes that contain the line, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

But putting the satire aside for a moment, the Small Business Administration website can prove very helpful for established, new and proposed small businesses, and I want to point you at a free tool you might find very useful.

The tool I’m talking about is called “Size Up.” It’s the creation of the online business, who has licensed it to the SBA. You can get directly to this tool here or by navigating to it through the SBA’s Small Business Tools page, where you’ll find other useful free business tools.

To use the Size Up tool, you enter the type of business you own or are researching, its location and in some cases its annual revenue. With that information entered, the online tool delivers valuable information in three areas:

  • A comparison of your business volume against other similar businesses in your location,
  • A map that shows where your competitors, customers, and suppliers are located, and
  • A list of the best zip codes for your advertising.

To show you how it works, I pretended that I operated a yoga studio in Chicago with an annual revenue of $150,000. Here’s how my business volume compared with other yoga studios:

Sizeup Revenue Volume

The tool also creates a map that color codes revenue to various areas (zip codes) in your location. If you wanted to relocate your business to a neighborhood where you might be able to boost your annual sales, this map could be extremely helpful. This data can also be presented in list form. Here’s the map for yoga instruction in Chicago:

Sizeup revenue by zip code map

You can map all of your competition, which is a great feature, but it’s more powerful than that. Once the map has been drawn and plotted with competitors, you can create overlays that tell you how much consumers spend in various areas. For my example, the overlay shows consumer spending in the “Personal Care” category.

Sizeup___competitor map

The advertising map drops pins in various areas that mark combined business revenues for your industry. You might want to do targeted advertising in the places where your potential customers are spending the most on your product or service. Further, if you combine this with the map that shows the locations of your competitors, you might use it for a geofencing ad campaign.

Sizeup___advertising map

If you depend on local customers, I encourage you to explore this tool. You might discover some opportunities. And if you’re planning a new venture, take your time and analyze a wide variety of potential locations.