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Business Research Resources

Introduction to Company Research

Now that you've explored your industry, it's time to take a look at your competition or potential partners! Company Research can help you answer questions like:

  • Who are my competitors?
  • What are their annual sales figures?
  • Who are their executives?
  • What new products do they have?

 NOTE: Make sure you study your sources carefully.  Check for the methodologies sources use to gather information and the timeliness of that information.

Step One: Is it a Public or a Private Company?

Public Companies

  • Public companies sell shares of stocks to the public
  • They must file financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • These reports become publicly-available through the SEC's EDGAR site.
  • You may have so much information available to you that you will have to narrow your search to a certain aspect of the company's operations (Ex. History of company, Personnel, Financial Information, Products and services, etc.)

Private Companies

  • Private companies are privately funded
  • They do not have to file financial reports with the SEC
  • Therefore, private companies can be hard to research.  You have to be creative.
  • You may need to estimate some figures or draw conclusions based on industry information, or finding information from other competitors.

Step 2: Search Library Databases

What databases should I search for company information?

Business Source Premier
Find company or product news and research, as well as prepared profiles of larger companies

ReferenceUSA (via many public libraries)
Profiles of 14 million public and private U.S. businesses.  Can be searched by name or used to buil detailed lists of companies.