In 2023, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported that there were 1.9 million small business employees in Michigan. This represented 47.3% of all employees in the state. 

We know that entrepreneurship is a vital part of our community and FCL invests in resources and services that empower entrepreneurs and small business owners of all backgrounds. These resources provide assistance to small businesses across a wide range of industries at any stage in their journey. 

The three online resources we highlight below help small business owners better understand their audience and competition and translate that information into an actionable business plan for growth. 

These platforms are all publicly available inside the Library on our public computers or while connected to the Library’s WiFi on a personal device. FCL cardholders can sign in and use these resources from anywhere using their FCL Card information. 

Anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Farmington or Farmington Hills is eligible for an FCL Card. Click here to learn how to apply for an FCL Card. 

You can read a full overview of the Library’s small business services on our Small Business & Entrepreneurship page. This page can be found by hovering over the “Collections” drop down tab on our website’s main navigation header.


Gale Business: Plan Builder is a step-by-step online planning tool for starting, managing, and optimizing a business or nonprofit. The program’s intuitive dashboard walks users through five areas of exploration to develop a business plan focused on long-term success. 

This resource requires users to create a personal account on the platform using an email address and password. After you open Gale Business: Plan Builder, you will be prompted to sign in with your username or password. If this is your first time and you need to create an account, click the “Get Started” link on the sign in page.  

This resource will guide you through the process of developing all parts of a full business plan, assisting you to pitch, establish, and develop your small business. Some of the sections within Plan Builder include: 

  • An Executive Summary of your company’s background, financials, launch strategy, market research, plan of operations, and more 

  • Business ideation resources including a SWOT analysis and business model canvas report 

  • A Break-even analysis tool with resources to guide you through reporting your company’s expenses, capital, sales, and more  

This resource does a fantastic job of simplifying business concepts through helpful guides and resources that are included within each section of the platform. The thought of starting a business can be intimidating because it seems overwhelming to learn all of the terms and processes involved. This tool breaks down these complicated steps into an intuitive process that can help entrepreneurs take and idea and make it a reality. 

The video below will help orient you to the Plan Builder dashboard. For a more in-depth tutorial, submit the contact form at the end of this blog post to schedule an individual or group session with the Library’s Business and Nonprofit Development Director. 

Gale Business: DemographicsNow allows users to analyze the demographics, attitudes, and spending habits of consumers in any geography in the U.S. so that they can make the right choices for your business. Users can narrow down consumer insights to targeted geographic locations that allow them to grow their audience by understanding their community.

The video below provides an overview of this tool. Further assistance is available under the "Tutorials" tab within DemographicsNow.

Reference Solutions is an excellent source of corporate and residential contact information. This database offers accurate data on 99 million businesses and 301 million consumers. Users can search through the general database of all U.S. Businesses or a variety of specified databases including: 

  • U.S. Jobs/Internships 

  • U.S. New Businesses 

  • U.S. New Movers/Homeowners 

  • U.S. Consumers/Lifestyles

  • Canadian Businesses

Some of the consumer data available to users includes: 

  • Age range 

  • Marital status 

  • Veteran status 

  • Income 

  • Homeowner, home value, and years in the home 

Reference Solutions also provides easy-to-understand summaries, charts and tables of the data rather than just providing you with the raw data. 

Users can export mailing lists for businesses based on their specific search queries. Say for example you own a small marketing firm, and you want to specifically reach out to female-owned businesses that employ 1-9 people in Detroit, MI. Select all those specific filters and run the report to populate a mailing list of all the businesses you may want to send a postcard to advertise your services. The list can be further narrowed down by the business’ sales volume and year established to target the ones that were recently established and that are quickly growing. 

 Reference solutions also offers free monthly webinars that cover topics like:

  • Getting Started Using Reference Solutions
  • Use Cases: Applying Tools & Data Filters
  • Entrepreneurship: Research for Starting, Managing, & Growing Businesses

Register for a Webinar



Need help finding the correct information? We offer research assistance, free business classes, network opportunities, and one-on-one technology assistance. If you need help finding the right library resources for your business or nonprofit, reach out to Sherri Vaughn, Business and Nonprofit Development Director, at sherri.vaughn@farmlib.org or submit a message below using the contact form. 

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