A new business intelligence tool offered free via the website of the Small Business Administration may help level the playing field for small business owners hoping to make strategic business decisions to ensure their long-term viability.

At an event Wednesday, Sept. 12, at the Small Business Development Center conference in New Orleans, officials announced the launch of “SizeUp”, which offers specialized market research to current and aspiring small business owners.

Leveraging hundreds of different kinds of data, SizeUp integrates information from government sources including the IRS, the U.S. Postal Service, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Census Bureau. Private -sector sources include phone directories, business publications and commercial data providers. Find out more about where the data that populates the SizeUp tool comes from.

SizeUp Data from GIS Planning on Vimeo.

Video: Where the data comes from and how it’s provided in SizeUp.

Highly specific data on thousands of industries is available by geographic region. There are three primary ways the SBA envisions current or would-be small business owners can benefit from using SizeUp:

1. Create a map of competitors, potential customers and suppliers. Maps can be used to aid in selecting a location with a large potential customer base but minimal competition.

2. Existing small businesspeople can use the tool to evaluate their business’s performance against their industry competitors, by reviewing data on revenues, employee salaries, insurance premiums and more.

3. Data can help direct advertising efforts for entrepreneurs, by providing custom demographic reports with data on where markets are currently underserved.

"Market research and analysis is critical for the success of any small business owner or entrepreneur.  Tools like SizeUp deliver data right to the fingertips of business owners to help make smart decisions and have the greatest opportunity to start, grow, compete and succeed," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills in a statement.

According to the Small Business Administration, SizeUp should be a valuable new tool for U.S. small businesses, which currently access SBA’s online tools more than 1 million times a month. "In today's challenging economic environment where small businesses create nearly all net new jobs in the U.S., help for small businesses is more important than ever before," Mills added.

GIS Planning, creator of the SizeUp market research tool, has licensed it to the Small Business Administration for one year.

“SizeUp empowers businesses to make smarter choices by providing many of the same demographic, industry, business, geographic, competitiveness, and cost-of-business data that huge corporations use every day,” said SizeUp’s CEO, Anatalio Ubalde.

Noelle Knell, Assistant Web Editor Noelle Knell  |  Managing Editor

Government Technology managing editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of marketing and communications experience, writing about public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she graduated from the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and @GovTechNoelle on Twitter.