I am working on a B2smallB business plan and looking for data on the total number of U.S. businesses. In particular, I am looking for projections on the total number of U.S. firms for the next five years (both employer firms and self-employed individuals). I have historical numbers from the US Census Bureau but haven't found any projections.
Thanks in advance.
You can try http://www.zapdata.com/. I think they have a free account that will give you the basics and I am pretty sure they have protections. If not, OutputLogic made an excellent point on extrapolation from past data.
Given that you have data already on historical small business numbers i'd say just extrapolate and move on to more urgent analysis tasks.
If the opportunity is in the 10s of millions, hundreds of millions, or several billions is the important question to answer. Looking for very fine detail is not going to add much value to your planning, and there are so many variables and things that will change between now and the time you reach a large market share that the details will change anyways.
You have a few data points of the total US population and the number of businesses in the past, so you can put the data in a chart and extrapolate it into the next five years.