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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) use maps to show information. They are powerful decision tools for big business (commonly known as “business intelligence” tools), but their high cost has kept them out of reach for small businesses — until now.

These reports are provided free of charge to prospective or existing small business owners who are receiving business counseling services from their local SBDC Advisor (also a free service).

Working through your local SBDC Advisor, SBDCNet can provide you with these same powerful tools used by big businesses, but at no direct cost to your business. SBDCNet uses some of its federal funding to subscribe to these GIS systems. Below is a small sampling of the GIS maps and reports we can provide. To get started using this system, please contact your local SBDC.

Competition Map

SBDC Advisors can order a competitor location map to help their small business clients get a better grasp of their competitive landscape and pinpoint market opportunities. These maps the location of individual competitors in relation to a small business location. The circle sizes on the map can be customized to a specific radius (the most popular is 1, 3, 5 mile, but rural areas frequently use much larger circles). To order this map, begin by contacting your local SBDC.

Small Business GIS Map Showing Competitor Locations
Map of Competitor Locations

Competitor List

Your local SBDC Advisor can also request a printed list of competitors to accompany the Competition Map. A competitor list typically includes: a competitor’s company name, location, number of employees at each location, whether the location is a competitor’s single location or branch, estimated annual sales volume, the competitor’s NAICS and SIC code and a latitude and longitude coordinate.

Small Business Competitor List
Competitor List Report

Market Reports

SBDCNet also can provide a wide variety of reports on important demographic indicators, including:

  • population
  • number/type of households
  • income levels
  • number/type of housing units
  • employment status
  • educational attainment
  • marital status
  • motor vehicle ownership

and many more.

We provide your local SBDC Advisor with both current values and trend data for these indicators. We also provide comparisons between the local market, county, state and the nation. These reports help the small business owner better understand their target customer. When used in conjunction with some of our location-based reports, the small business owner can anticipate business trends at new locations.

Consumer Expenditure Comparison

This map and accompanying report shows average household annual expenditures on different types of products or services. It also provides data on the number of households and income levels. Your local SBDC Advisor uses this report to help clients evaluate the relative demand for their chosen industry within their local market area, county, state and the nation.


Customizable GIS Map for Consumer Expenditures
Annual household expenditures for a requested retail category (books), by zip code.
Consumer expenditures report, showing highlighted retail category (books).
Annual household expenditures for books, with regional & national comparisons.

Drive Time Maps

The time it takes to travel to a local store or restaurant can be a significant factor in defining the target market for a small business. We can also provide your local SBDC Advisor with highly detailed maps that show the geographic boundaries of a small business’ target market customized to the amount of time considered acceptable to the small business’ clientele. We can also show different characteristics of the market, such as average incomes.

Here is a sample of a Drive Time Map showing which market areas can reach a small business destination within 10 minutes.
Customizable GIS Drive Time Maps for Small Businesses
10 Minute Drive Time Map

The map below shows average household income levels by zip code with an overlay of a 20 minute drive time to a small business location.
Small Business Research Map Showing Average Income and a 20 Minute Drive Time Boundary
Average household income by zip code with a drive time boundary.