This guide shows information sources that can be used to research the current business environment and potential future strategies for an enterprise. The material has been divided into categories based on the type of information needed. Select the appropriate category to begin your research:
The resources highlighted here are mostly taken from the full list of business and economic databases provided by the ASU Library which can be consulted for additional resources for this and other projects.
Citation tools and help with using the library are available under these sections:
Quick summaries or profiles on companies are found in business directories and company financial databases like these. Be aware that less information will be available for private companies with even less for the smaller ones.
Competitors can be identified by following the competitors link from the target company's entry if there is one, or by searching for the industry by keyword or industry classification code (SIC or NAICS) in the databases above.
Some companies' products or services may represent too small a niche within an industry classification to find its competitors readily through an industry search. One way around this is to search for the product or service keywords in the business description field of the company entries. Another is to use a specialized directory that allows product or service searching, such as:
News articles can help fill out skimpy information on a company, industry, or subindustry. Business article databases will search a wide range of sources at the national and international level. However, for articles on small, local companies the best sources are the local newspaper and business periodicals.
Before searching the sources below, consult SIC & NAICS classifications to identify the code used to search a desired industry in directories, statistical data, and article indexes.
INDUSTRY AND MARKET STUDIES
There are a number of sources for this type of information with different coverage characteristics as indicated below.
Broad Industry Coverage:
Specialized Industry Coverage:
INDUSTRY RATIOS AND AVERAGES
Use industry ratios and averages to develop financials for the business plan. See Understanding Financial Ratios for Small Business for an explanation of how to use ratios for this. The examples shown are from the print versions of the online sources listed below.
To augment the data found in industry reports or to find data to generate your own report if a prepackaged one is not found, here are some basic sources of statistics to consult.
Associations are also potentially a good source of industry news, data, and directories. If you are having difficulty identifying associations related to your industry, try searching this database.
For industries that are affected by federal or state regulations and legislation, there are some useful databases that make it easier to track current regulations and statutes as well as the bills under consideration.