Small Business Resources


Demographic information includes such characteristics as age, education, income, and gender; this information can be used by entrepreneurs for market research. The usual source for demographic information is the U.S. Census, but there are a number of other privately published demographic sources available.

Included in the pages below are some of the print sources available in the Business and Sciences Department, as well as online resources that will be helpful to anyone seeking demographic information.

Print Resources

(Please ask for assistance at the Reference Desk on 3rd floor.)

The Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios uses “the latest available IRS figures on U.S. and international companies, and tracks 50 operating and financial factors in 192 industries.” It provides “competitive norms in dollar amounts of revenue and provides other critical financial factors in percentage, including debt ratio, return on assets, return on equity, profit margin, and more.” MPL’s series, in print, is through 2018 and may not be complete.

RMA Annual Statement Studies is a source of detailed industry financial data for comparing businesses to industry in valuation reports, company/industry ratio analyses and credit decisions. MPL’s series is up to date through 2023-2024.

Dun & Bradstreet’s Regional Business Directory provides local business listings for providers of business services; finance, insurance and real estate; transportation, communication, & public utilities; retail trade; wholesale trade; manufacturing; construction; and mining. Each business listed includes the company name, address, telephone, D-U-N-S number, primary line of business, SIC codes, number of employees by location and by company, annual sales volume, key officers, date established and/or ticker symbol if publicly traded. The directory is available for 1998-2023.

Online Resources

The Census Bureau’s website ( provides a wealth of information for business people. It contains the official statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau, and a wide variety of demographics for Memphis, as well as for other areas of Tennessee and the rest of the country. This site can provide much help to any business owner, anyone doing market research, or anyone who is writing a business plan. By starting at American FactFinder (see the left column on the Census homepage), a street address can be entered to find Census 2000 data on the local level. To obtain basic demographic data, consult Summary File 1. Summary File 2 provides detailed data about racial groups in America and Summary File 3 provides social, economic and housing data accessible for all geographic levels.

NAICS Codes — A complete guide from the US Census Bureau of the up-to-date North American Industry Classification System. This is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.

In addition, the Census Business Builder (online only) offers a suite of services that provide selected demographic and economic data from the Census Bureau tailored to specific types of users in a simple to access and use format.

County Business Patterns ( is useful for studying the economic activity of small areas such as counties (Shelby County, for example), metropolitan statistical areas (such as Memphis, TN-AR-MS MSA), by zip code(s) and/or by the United States. Find out the number of similar businesses in your area and their size. Also allows you to compare with other geographical areas. Use the data to analyze market potential, measure the effectiveness of sales and advertising programs, set sales quotas, and develop budgets.

The Economic Census, compiled every 5 years, is a great resource for detailed information about businesses by sector and location. Your business can use this resource to gauge competition, calculate market share, determine sales territories and quotas, and evaluate opportunities. For example, you can find the number of establishments, sales, annual payroll, and number of paid employees by zip code for your industry or business type.

The Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce website offers helpful economic and demographic information about the Metro area. From its home page, the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce provides insight to living and working in Memphis. Additionally, the website offers insight into Memphis business that includes information on taxes, training, location selection, incentives and much more.

The Small Business Administration offers a variety of resources for market research and data collection. Free statistics are readily available to help prospective small business owners. Additionally, SBA’s Office of Advocacy includes State Profiles which gather the latest federal economic data into snapshots of small business economic activity.

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