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Competitive Analysis

A lot of small businesses are either family owned or owned by one or a few partners.  They are usually private companies who do not sell stock.  Only the companies that are traded on the stock market make information about their organizations available to the public.  Private businesses do not share financial, personnel, or sales data information.

There are other ways to analyze your competition and get the information you need for your business plan proposal--or at least come up with viable estimates.

How to find your competitors in a local market:

1.  Search the yellow pages

Big Yellow

Enter the city and state, and then browse categories keyword.

Switchboard
Enter the city and state, and then browse categories keyword.

2.  Search the membership directories of the local Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development websites for your city.

Salisbury Chamber of Commerce - See links to the Chamber's Directory of Members as well as the 'Business & Government' category that includes a number of resources.  Provides a concise overview of Salisbury in Facts & Figures.

Maryland Economic Development Partners and The Maryland State Data Center

Estimating Sales & Market Share:

You won't be able to get exact sales and market share information for each of those businesses that you got from the phone book or other business directories.  Estimates are easier to get.

How many businesses are there in all that would be similar to the one you are proposing in your business plan?

Once you get that number, then you will need to find retail sales for the product or service category for your city/county/town.  Use the chamber of commerce & economic development websites to look for retail sales of that product/service category.  *Sometimes the category is really broad versus specific to what you are looking for.  For example, car wash may be under the broader category of 'Automotive Aftercare'. 

If you can't find retail sales from the Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development sites:

Survey of Buying Power and Media Markets
September Special Issue of Sales & Marketing Management (2003-04)
Shelved at the Reference Desk

To find an estimate of market share:

(# of businesses divided by sales of product/service category)

You may be able to find ... "how much the average consumer spends on x" ... in articles or Best Customers. You would then multiply that number by the population figure for your area (# represented in your target market) and then divide by the number of businesses in your product/service category.

Best Customers:  Demographics of Consumer Demand
Reference HC 79 .C6 R87 2005

Look up your product/service and find out how much the average household spends for it.