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Step One: The Next Step

Find out as much as you can about your chosen businessOnce you know what you want to sell, the next step is finding out as much as you can about your chosen business. Skipping this step is like building a brick house without mortar. The research you complete here will help you determine sales and income projections, the size of your market, and facts about your competition. In the United States, all types of businesses are classified with a number. This classification system is called the North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS. Formerly it was known as the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. The NAICS classifies 1,170 industries, of which 565 are service-based. It is very specific in its classification. For example, a search using the word "food" produced forty-three matches, ranging from "Food Service Contractors" (number 722310) to "Food Machinery Repair and Maintenance Services" (number 811310). Each match is broken down even further. Select "Food Service Contractors" and the classification is broken down into seven more specific categories ranging from "Airline Food Service Contractors" to "Industrial Caterers." For more information about NAICS codes, visit the Small Business Administration site's relevant pages:

To find out the classification number for your business, go to the U.S. Census Bureau's web site. You will be prompted to enter a word related to your business. For example, if you want to manufacture garden furniture, you could enter "garden." From the list of businesses with "garden" in the description, there are three related to "garden furniture." Once you know the NAICS number assigned to your business, you will be able to find out a lot of information about your specific industry.

To find out more about your industry once you know your NAICS number, go to the part of the Census site that contains data from the economic census ( On this page, you can find information such as the number of retail trade establishments in your area. At the top right-hand side of the page, there will be a drop-down box from which you can select a location in which you are interested. Then once the data appears, click on the arrow located on the far left in the row next to the category in which you are interested. Clicking this arrow will make your search more specific. Continue clicking the arrow until the industry you are interested in appears.

Next: Who Will My Customers Be? >>>


For more information, contact:

Pat Killette
Small Business Center Director
(919) 209-2015
Johnston Community College | 245 College Road | PO Box 2350 Smithfield, NC 27577
(919) 934-3051 - - Copyright © 2014, All Rights Reserved.