Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Our Small Business Engagement Specialist is here to help small businesses and entrepreneurs get connected to the resources and partners they need. We have books and electronic resources that will help you write a business plan, enhance your marketing, develop your staff, and network with local agencies and organizations that support entrepreneurship. Visit with our Small Business Engagement Specialist during office hours or schedule a one-on-one appointment.

Hadiza Sa-Aadu is the Library’s Small Business Engagement Specialist. She holds a BA in Economics and French from Emory University and an MBA with a specialization in Data Analytics from the University of Iowa. Her career has spanned marketing, sales and data analytics in both the public and private sectors. She can help you mine and analyze data as you conduct industry research and help you develop a marketing plan. Hadiza is passionate about leveraging data to inspire stakeholders to take action, creative place-making (ask her about this if you’re curious!), mission driven organizations including social enterprises and human centered design.

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So, you want to be a business owner? Congratulations! Now where do you go from here?

If you haven’t already come up with a business idea, now is the time to really assess your strengths, passions and available resources. Who can you lean on? What do you already know how to do? How do you handle adversity? One of the most important things aside from your idea itself is being honest with yourself about the reasons why you want to become a business owner, assess your strengths, identify your opportunities of growth and start a game plan.

Gale Business: Plan Builder is a tool you can rely on through every stage of your business planning; from pre-idea to when the point when it’s time to create your business plan to apply for financing or attract outside investors.

Are you getting ready to validate your business idea for market viability and/or to assess the existing competitive landscape? We have two databases that can help you on this journey. Explore AtoZdatabases for business lists that detail information including industry codes, financial health, employee size, and contact information. Explore DemographicsNow to gain a preliminary understanding of market saturation, consumer demand and much, much more.

Are you trying to understand your existing customers more deeply? What channels of communication do they prefer, what kinds of behaviors are typical to them? DemographicsNow has a great Customer Segmentation Tool that can provide this kind of information if you already have an existing customer list in the form of an excel spreadsheet. Set up a consultation with Hadiza Sa-Aadu today if you’d like assistance on how to generate this report for existing customers.

One of your first steps to starting a business should be to write a business plan. A plan will help you organize your ideas to present to funders (such as banks and venture capitalists). Do your homework to get these startup dollars. Your business plan should include

  • An executive summary that briefly describes why you are starting the business, and what consumer problem the product or service will solve
  • An organizational plan that describes the staffing and management structure of the business
  • A financial plan that describes the company’s startup budget
  • A marketing plan that describes the market, industry trends, and ways the company will reach its intended customer audience
  • Appendices or supporting documents

Community Reference services has several resources to assist with industry and market information (see above). We also have business plan samples in electronic format in several resources:

The website Bplans also has many good sample business plans.

There are several steps to take to turn your business idea into reality. Here are some resources and services to help.

  • The Missouri Secretary of State’s Starting a Business webpage. This page includes links to the required state forms and the new company registration system.
  • Legal GPS is an excellent tool to build your business-legal knowledge. Learn what options exist for state entities, tax entities and continue to build on your knowledge as you determine what might make sense for you.
  • The Secretary of State’s Search for a Business Entity page. This page allows you to determine if your selected business name is available for use. The Library’s database Legal Forms Library (in consultation with an attorney) may also help you with this process.
  • The staff of KC BizCare, operated by the City of Kansas City, will assist you with the licensing process and other required local registrations.
  • Remember to register with the Missouri Department of Revenue and the IRS to be assigned an identification number to pay those taxes!
  • Almost all entrepreneurs also need an attorney and an accountant. is an excellent website for finding a good attorney.

Check out these additional services and agencies to accomplish your small business goals.

KC SourcesLink: Network & Grow Your Business

One of the single best agency for entrepreneurs in Kansas City is KC SourceLink. KC SourceLink supports a network of more than 200 nonprofit resource organizations that provide services for small businesses. KC SourceLink links these organizations to one another and to new and established small businesses in Kansas City. Check their calendar for frequently updated learning and networking events.

SourceLink’s Resource Navigator is a great tool to connect with a organization that will meet your current business needs. The Resource Navigator organizes hundreds of agencies into key topics, such as business planning, financing, marketing, training, and research.

Kauffman Foundation Programs & Services

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has supported entrepreneurship in Kansas City with programs and services for decades. Here are a few of their leading programs.

Free Web-Based Business Startup Resources

Educational Resources & Services

City Government, Legal, & Veteran Business Services

Funding & Financing Resources

Chambers of Commerce

Other Business Networking Opportunities

Business Incubators & Coworking Services

The ease and quantity of information you are able to find on a company depends a lot on whether it is a public or private company, large or small, local, national or international, as well as a number of other factors. It also depends on what kind of information you are trying to find.

The first thing you need to determine is if the company is publicly held. Of the millions of companies in the United States, only a small handful are public companies.

  • Publicly held companies are those that you and I can purchase shares of stock (shares of ownership) in. Stock can be purchased through a broker on any day that the stock market is open.
  • Privately held companies are those that are owned by a limited number of people (founder, key employees, and/or investors). You and I cannot purchase a share of the company.

There are several resources you can use to determine if a company is publicly held.

Publicly Traded Companies

It is relatively easy to find information on publicly held companies, as they are required to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These reports in turn are made available to the public.

  • These reports can be accessed by SEC’s EDGAR database.
  • The website allows you to search for the SEC forms that startups and investments firms must file when they raise money.

Publicly held companies for the most part are the largest and most influential companies. Consequently, their actions and products are well covered by newspaper and magazine reporters. The library subscribes to several databases that can help you find articles about the company you are researching.

  • Statista houses over 1 million statistics on 80,000 topics useful for your market research and analysis needs. You can access Statista's database to find the data you need to support your business plan.

Private Companies

It is much more difficult to find information about private companies as they are not required to make information about themselves public. The size of the company often determines how much information is going to be found.

  • Start with AtoZdatabases. This database is a directory of tens of millions of businesses from all over the world. In addition to contact information, business listings include:
    • Owners/manager’s name
    • Estimated sales
    • Number of employees
    • Link to their website
    • Years in business
  • You will want to identify the businesses who are already engaged in this industry. Statista’s databases contain detailed profiles of publicly listed and privately held companies worldwide.
  • Check to see if the company has a listing in the website.

Local Companies

If the business you want information on is a smaller local company, there are specific resources that could be of help to you. Take a look at the guide on Local Business and Economic Information in the Business and Career Center.

Company Websites

Don’t forget to look at a company’s own website. A Google search will help you find a business’s website. Often you can learn a great deal about a company (products, services, locations, contact names, history) from their website. Remember though, this is not unbiased information.

Use the website Glassdoor to learn about different aspects of a company as an employer. This includes salary information, company reviews, and the company’s interview process.

Who Should Reseach an Industry?

  • Entrepreneurs studying the industry they are entering.
  • Small business owners who are writing their business plan.
  • Job/career seekers who are preparing for a job interview or exploring career options.
  • Investors exploring stock purchases.
  • Marketers, product developers, and small business owners looking for new markets to enter.
  1. Begin your research by identifying the NAICS or industry code that represents the product or service you are interested in.
    You will find most industry information aggregated by NAICS codes. NAICS stands for North American Industry Classification System and was designed by the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican governments to keep track of economic activity. The codes represent the manufacture, wholesale and retail of products as well as services provided. Consequently, every business can be identified by at least one and often several NAICS codes. Another industry coding system, Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) System, may also be helpful for you in your research. SIC codes are older than the NAICS coding system, but sometimes they are much more descriptive for a particular industry than NAICS codes. As with NAICS codes, businesses can be assigned multiple SIC codes. The primary industry code (NAICS or SIC) for publicly traded companies is available on the company’s Form 10-K.
  2. You will want to identify the businesses who are already engaged in this industry. Statista’s databases contain detailed profiles of publicly listed and privately held companies worldwide.
    You might be more interested in the smaller companies and/or the local companies in your industry. To find these companies use AtoZdatabases. AtoZ includes only US companies, while Business Insights includes US and international companies. (Library card is required to access these resources from outside the Library.)
  3. What trends are currently impacting your industry?: Technology, new products, the economy, demographic changes, regulations, new competition, changes in lifestyles? You can read about your industry by using
    • Statista houses over 1 million statistics on 80,000 topics useful for your market research and analysis needs. You can access Statista's database to find the data you need to support your business plan.
    • The website Bizminer has many excellent US industry market reports, but they are not free. Each reports costs around $100.
    • Kansas City Business Journal is an excellent source of information regarding local businesses and industries. You can search the Business Journal online going back to 1996. If the full text of the article is not available online, the Library has copies of all of the issues.
  4. Statistical sources can give you another look at your industry.
    • The Economic Census, completed every five years, contains information that can help entrepreneurs to evaluate industry growth, and identify new markets and product lines.
    • The Industry Statistics Portal is a great place to start to access Census information about your industry. This site is a faster way of accessing the industry data that is also contained in Census Bureau Data.
    • County Business Patterns are prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau. Using a NAICS code, you will find the number of establishments, number of people employed and the annual payroll figure for specific industries.
    • The above-mentioned reports do not include those businesses that are one-person operations. To get data on businesses that have no paid staff use Nonemployer Statistics prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau.
  5. Trade associations can provide a wealth of information to you. Because their members are all active in the industry and share information, they have a very good handle on what is happening in their particular field. There are trade associations for just about any line of work. To find the one(s) that represent your industry use Encyclopedia of Associations.

Demographics are statistics about people: How many people live in a specific area, where they work, what they buy, and how they live. These statistics can shape the delivery of a new product or service, or where a business is located.

The US Census

It is mandated that every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau count all of the people in the United States and Puerto Rico. Along with counting the people, the Census Bureau also collects certain economic and social characteristics about everyone. Rather than doing the long form every 10 years, the Census Bureau is now taking an annual American Community Survey which provides an estimated count of many socioeconomic characteristics. The questions asked are those that help federal and state agencies carry out the services they provide as mandated by Congress. This mandate is a benefit to business owners, social service agencies and others who need demographic information. The following information can get you started on your research.

Census Business Builder

An online source you should consult first is Census Business Builder. CBB is an interactive website that provides access to useful demographic and economic data from the Census Bureau and other reliable sources in an easy-to-use, map-based format.

Census Bureau Data

If you are looking for basic demographic information, use Census Bureau Data, a website created and maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau. Very quickly, you can pull up a fact sheet on:

  • States
  • Cities/towns
  • Counties
  • Zip codes

Statistics are given for more than 40 variables, including:

  • Population Characteristics
  • Social Characteristics
  • Housing Characteristics
  • Economic Characteristics

Demographics Now

Demographics Now provides detailed demographic reports. Assess business viability, perform market and site location analysis, create sales leads and/or marketing mailing lists, find potential sponsors and donors to grow a non-profit, prepare a small business plan and much more.

American Community Survey

The American Community Survey (ACS) was created to give not just federal programs more timely data, but to also help you, the business owner, student, activist, and community organizer, the current demographic, social, economic and housing data that you need. The ACS:

  • Is an on-going annual survey
  • Is sent to a sample of the population
  • Tells us what the population looks like and how it lives
  • Helps communities determine where to locate services and allocate resources.
  • Helps business people determine locations of characteristic populations.

The ACS will give you more detailed data than what is found in Census Bureau Data but only for larger geographical areas. The annual statistics are provided for places with populations of 65,000 or more, while the 3-year estimate data is provided for geographic populations of 20,000 or more. The geographic breakdowns include:

  • State
  • County
  • City
  • Unified School District

Data found in ACS but not on the Factfinder Factsheets include:

  • Ancestry breakdown
  • Marital status
  • Count of women in normal child-bearing years
  • School enrollment
  • Householder relationship

Other Sources of Demographic Data


The Community Reference area on the third floor of the Central Library also has several print resources that may help you with your demographic research.

Statistics are used to prove points, bolster arguments, support needs, justify an existence and much more. What we buy, where we work, what we do in our spare time, and our health all get translated into statistics that are studied by businesses, governments, and academicians. Statistics are a part of our everyday life yet they can be baffling to understand and difficult to find.

As you start your statistics research, ask yourself these questions:

  • What specific statistics do I need to find?
  • What geographic level (state, county, zip code, census tract) do I need?
  • Do I need just the current figures or do I want historical numbers for trend analysis?
  • Do I need economic statistics (number of businesses, employment figures) or demographic/social characteristic numbers?

Census Business Builder, the Economic Census, and FedStats

An online source you should consult first is Census Business Builder. CBB is an interactive website that provides access to useful demographic and economic data from the Census Bureau and other reliable sources in an easy-to-use, map-based format.

The Census Bureau also completes a survey of businesses every five years. The Economic Census gives the number of businesses, employment, and payroll figures broken down by industry type (NAICS) and by geography.

Another good starting point is FedStats, the federal government’s comprehensive statistics portal.

Other Federal Economic Data Sources

In addition to the Census, other federal agencies that provide useful statistics include

Other government agencies collect data related to their area of responsibility. Statistics regarding education, health, labor, crime, food, housing, transportation and other topics are available.

Kansas City Area Statistics

Although federal statistical sources provide some local data, there are additional sources. The Mid-American Regional Council (MARC) is the regional planning organization for nine counties and 120 cities. MARC maintains a website called Metro Dataline that includes some Census data as well as a wealth of metro-level economic, demographic and transportation statistics.

During difficult and uncertain times finding resources to plan, seek funds or otherwise navigate changing realities can help you manage today and prepare for the future. With an abundance of information available to you online this guide is an overview of the resources available to you as we continue to adapt to new ways of working and communicating.

Immediate Funding and Financing Emergency financing, low interest loans and grants are available to businesses and employees impacted through various organizations and collectives. Quick action is recommended as there is high demand for all forms of funding and financing.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, administered directly from the Small Business Association are low interest loans for businesses impacted by Covid-19.

LISC Small Business Relief Grant is currently open for applicants who are seeking an alternative to financing. Be sure to read the online FAQ for updated information about the current and future rounds.

LISC Paycheck Protection Program assists small business owners who were unable to receive SBA loans during the first round. The application is open to minority, veteran and women owned small businesses and business owners receive assistance navigating the PPP application process.

Foundation Directory Online is now available to you at home through the digital collection with your library card. Search for available grants for 501c3s and individuals.

For Artists and Gig Workers

Charlotte Street Rocket Relief Fund is available and accepting applicants on a rolling basis. The first notifications of grantees will start May 1 and each following week ten artists and notified until all funds are distributed.

Artist Relief grants are available for artists dedicated to their careers who demonstrate financial impact due to COVID-19. Read through the website for additional eligibility criteria and to apply.

Seed Commons Worker Response Fund currently available to impacted co-ops across the Giving Compass Network.

Missouri Department of Labor: If you’re an impacted gig worker, independent contractor or self-employed check the Missouri Department of Labor website often for updates on applying for and receiving unemployment benefits.

The Professional Beauty Association COVID-19 Relief Fund is currently available for beauty professionals who haven’t been able to work due to COVID-19.

Organizations like Midwest Music Foundation, National Restaurant Association, and Freelancers Union are raising funds to make available to restaurant workers and freelancers respectively. Sign up for updates or check the websites to stay current on the availability of funds.

Mentorship and Strategizing Services

For business owners seeking guidance during turbulent times, free resources are available to help you pivot to digital, learn more about your existing customers and speak with an expert one-on-one.

  • Demographics Now is a powerful tool to help you with market research. For current business owners with customers Demographics Now can also help you learn more about your customer base. Use it on your own with an excel file (.csv format) or book an appointment with Small Business Specialist Hadiza Sa-Aadu for help.
  • Email and tele-counseling available by Women’s Business Center
  • Virtual mentorship and classes available by SCORE

Deciding to Close

If you’re facing the decision to close your business there are resources available to you to help specifically with the transition.

Data and Research

KC Sourcelink constantly updates the resources, learning opportunities and networking events available for business owners affected by COVID-19 and people working on pre-operational ideas. Set up an appointment with a resource navigator to connect directly with business resources from funding to counseling.


US Census: COVID-19 Demographic and Economic resources Impact of COVID-19 Crisis: Insights from Global Startup Survey with the Voice of the Entrepreneurs

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia: Which Workers Will Be Most Impacted?

John’s Hopkins University Coronavirus Map: world map and national map(s) with state/province and county detail.

Re-Opening Guides and Food for Thought

Gensler: Retail Re-Opening Guide

Start Us Up Now: Rebuilding Better

Startups and New Businesses

Sometimes sudden changes create opportunities to bring fresh ideas closer to life. For entrepreneurs thinking about the next step or anyone thinking about getting into small business ownership these resources are for you.

Digital Sandbox is available for proof-of-concept stage startups seeking commercialization and scaling assistance to receive funding and other resources.

KC Collective provides access to a plethora of digital resources to entrepreneurs. Membership is available to early stage active startup founders in Kansas City.

FranNet is an online network providing access to free learning materials and counseling for those who may be interested in franchise ownership.

Ready to learn more about your legal options as a new business owner? Use Legal GPS with your library card to help you gain clarity on tax structures, state structures and much more.