arial photo of woman looking at her computer with a screen that says "business analysis." There are pages of reports on the table around the computer.

Small Business Insights Tool FAQ

Learn more about how to utilize the Small Business Insights Tool!

Jump To:

Frequently Asked Questions

The City offers the Small Business Insights Tool as a self-service resource for current or prospective small business owners. It provides hyper-local market research for local businesses to see how they compare to industry competitors, discover potential customers or suppliers, target advertising campaigns, and more. It is open to the public (for free!), as a 24/7 online resource.

Watch the intro video or read through the FAQ below to get started!
¿Habla español? ¡Mira un video introductorio aquí!

How to Use the Small Business Insights Tool

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use the Small Business Insights tool?
Data is at your fingertips with this 24/7, self-service tool! Go to the Small Business Insights Widget and enter your industry and location to get started. Once entered, you can toggle through the different features and enter more details about your business to see how you size up.  

What business types and industries are included?
This tool includes data on thousands of industries. To be included, an industry must be one in which the typical business produces revenue. This excludes many industries primarily funded by government and religious institutions. 

What do the graphs mean?
There are a variety of charts and graphs created for you with this tool. One of the most common is a chart that compares your business to the performance of similar businesses in your industry located in your same city, county, metro, and state compared to the nation. You can use this graph to compare your business to how similar businesses which compete in your industry are performing in different locations.

What is the cost?
This is a free service. The City of Raleigh has invested in this technology to offer as a resource to the small business community.

Do you offer more in-depth training webinars on the Small Business Insights Tool?
We have a recorded demonstration available for business owners wanting to learn more about the tool and how to use it!

Will my company information be left confidential?
All individual information you submit is kept completely confidential and is only for your use. You do not need to set up an account login to use the tool.

Where does the data come from?
In the United States, business data comes from hundreds of data sources including IRS records, county courthouse filings, Yellow Pages and White Pages, business publications, the U.S. Postal Service, and corporate annual reports, which are manually reviewed and maintained. The data is verified through over 25 million phone calls each year by third-party researchers and is constantly updated, which means the competitiveness ranking of businesses is recalculated with every update. This business data is similar to and includes the type of data used by the majority of Fortune 100 companies, the most used search engines, and even GPS-based auto navigation systems.

Demographic, labor force, consumer, education, innovation, occupation, transportation, environmental, incentive, and entrepreneurship data comes from a wide range of public and private data sources including, but not limited to, the US Census, United States Postal Service, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau estimates, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Medicare statistics, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Federal Aviation Office, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and commercial data providers. Data is updated on a varying schedule depending on the dataset. Demographic data includes current-year projections using proprietary data for most data points.

Because much of the data provided by public sources is not updated frequently enough to make real-time business decisions (such as the US Census), data is projected to the present year using proprietary methods. The methodology follows rigorous quantitative analysis standards which follow best practices in statistics, economics, demography, geography, corporate site selection, and economic development. In addition, our technology partner uses proprietary methodology for analyzing information from all of the datasets.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data comes from a variety of sources. The base map data is provided through Google Maps and its data vendors. However, for business decision success, companies need a much higher level of geographic data accuracy, robustness, and information than is currently provided on any of the major search engine map websites. The tool overlays this needed business, demographic, and other geo-referenced community characteristics over Google Maps.

Small Business Insights Tool Training Webinar



Mark Weldon
Small Business Development Manager

Housing and Neighborhoods
Service Categories:
Small Business
Related Services:
Small Business Insights