Throughout its lifetime, a small business naturally creates a rich data footprint. To power our Businesses API, we gather this footprint from three broad categories of data sources:
A business starts and ends with the government. Federal, state, and local governments publish when a business incorporates, is awarded a license or contract, lays off employees, and closes its operations.
- Business Website
Many businesses nowadays build a public website. These are rich, self-reported, and timely.
Other trusted sources of credible, reliable data about a business.
Let’s dive into each of these in more depth.
A business’s life, and thereby its data footprint, starts and ends with the government.
If a business incorporates, it must file a corporate registration with the Secretary of State for every state they work in. These corporate registrations often indicate the start of a business’s story.
Then, if a business needs a license to do its work, be it to build something, serve alcohol, or treat a patient, the government will publicly disclose if it grants the business one. Some licenses are done at the federal level, like basic firearms licensing. Others, like construction, are done at the state level in about half of all states but at the county level in the other half. There is a wide diversity of licensing taxonomies at city, county, state, and federal levels.
If the government hires a business to do some work, the government will grant a publicly-available government contract. As with licenses, this is true at the local, state, and Federal levels.
Additionally, there are a number of federal agencies that publish industry-specific, high coverage data that we capture. For example, The Small Business Association (SBA) publishes the details of loans it provides to businesses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes the inspections and violations businesses receive. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes when a business releases a toxic chemical.
Finally, if a business lays off a number of its employees, it must publicly file a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice. If the business is also closing, it files closure with the same state-based secretary of state that it began.
If you want to learn about a business, the best place to start is usually the business’s website. Although many businesses still have no online process, if a business does have a website, it is a timely, self-reported way to figure out what the business does.
To begin, most business websites will indicate their line of work or industry. Additionally, you can often find specific operations. For example, does the business have a physical location? Does it sell goods? If so, does it offer delivery? And for some businesses, the website even reveals a complete e-commerce catalog of what they sell.
We also look at each business's broader online footprint - for example, its Yelp page.
Our final data source category is a catch-all for any data that doesn’t come directly from (1) the government or (2) the business’s website. Usually, these come from other, private, third-party sources. This could be another data provider; for example, one that calls businesses to verify their information, or a vendor with a window into business financials.
Updated 4 months ago