Ever wonder how your business stacks up against direct competitors as well as others in your industry across the country? This is where the process of “benchmarking” comes in handy. Benchmarking basically provides a means for sizing up key aspects of your business against others like it.
For example, does your business make more or less money than others with similar characteristics – other shoe stores, for example, or contracting firms, salons, or thousands of others? How many employees do you have compared to other businesses like yours, and how often do you have to replace them? How does your average worker salary stack up, and the revenue you produce per employee?
One way to find out is with a new (and free) online tool called SizeUp (www.sizeup.com). This service is offered by GIS Planning, a San Francisco-based information technology firm, and is also available on the U.S. Small Business Administration site (www.sba.gov/sizeup).
SizeUp provides helpful data analysis for small businesses in three key ways:
• Benchmarking an existing business to see how it sizes up by comparing performance to all other competitors in the same industry.
• Mapping competition to see where competitors, customers and suppliers are located.
• Finding the best places to advertise by choosing from preset reports to discover areas with the highest industry revenue and most underserved markets. You can also create custom demographic reports if you want.
This is a simplified version of the same type of benchmarking used by big companies, except this is free. The data used by the SizeUp tool comes from hundreds of public and private sources and is verified and updated constantly. It includes the same types of data used by Fortune 500 companies.
Once you’ve signed up to use the tool and have entered your company information, SizeUp will create a variety of charts and graphics comparing your business to others. One of the most common is a chart that compares your business to the performance of similar businesses in your industry located in your same city, county, metro and state compared to the nation as a whole.