This guest blog post is provided by Statistics Canada who is responsible for producing statistics that help Canadians better understand their country — its population, resources, economy, society and culture.

Is your business still on track? It's easy to get so busy with day-to-day operations that you lose sight of your business plan's objectives. Have you stepped back lately to reassess adjustments you might need to make due to changing economic conditions?

The CANSIM socio-economic database can help revive your business plan. You can access this database for free online. It's been free since February 2012. Whatever business sector you are in — retail, industry, service or hospitality — CANSIM has data on it. Updates are made to the site every week day as new data becomes available. It's likely that some of the key factors you considered in your original business plan may have shifted in today's rapidly changing social and economic climate. You can use CANSIM to analyze the trends in your market. Perhaps you have experienced cost overruns or revenue shortfalls. A search may reveal changes in demographics or incomes that influence customer habits, or perhaps even a rise in the number of competitors in your area. This database can provide a wealth of data that you can use to identify the cause and re-evaluate your business plan.

An important thing to remember about this database is that it's comprehensive; it houses information from 350 Statistics Canada surveys. So where to begin? To solve that for new CANSIM users, Statistics Canada has included a video tutorial (link no longer valid) that demonstrates how to navigate its new interface so you can hone in on the information you want — in your region, in your business sector, in your market — and examine that information over time to pinpoint trends. You can customize table results in countless ways. If you've never used it before, the five-minute tutorial is certainly worth viewing.

So maybe it's time to revisit your business plan to make sure it reflects what's really happening in your market. CANSIM can help.

Frequent check-ups help keep businesses healthy too.