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Why business information?

Business information -- such as company histories and financials, market research reports, SWOT analyses, etc. -- is typically written by industry analysts and occasionally by journalists. You may or may not be able to find information on a particular company depending on whether it is public or private, its size or location, and also on its visibility in the news media.

You might use business information:

  • to identify companies and potential competitors
  • to understand a company's strategy
  • to gather consumer demographics and profiles
  • to get insight into a local market area
  • to find reports on market trends or the performance of a specific industry

(Adapted from Temple University's Advertising Campaigns Libguide)

Research specific companies & industries

Research Private Companies

Research on private companies (particularly small private companies) can be challenging, since private companies are not required to make available the same information required of public companies. It is often necessary to search in a number of different sources for any available information, including the company's website and local/regional news sources.

If, after searching in the databases listed in the box above, you are unable to locate any information about your private company, try the following databases.

Company Research Tips

The kinds of information you may find about a company depends upon several factors.  Here are some tips for doing a more thorough search:

1.  Think about variations of the company name.
Resources may use alternative spellings or abbreviations of a company name.  In addition, some databases require a ticker symbol to find company information. Do a quick search in Google Finance or a similar search engine to find the ticker symbol.

2.  Figure out if the company is public or private.
Publicly traded companies are usually much easier to find information about. Try these tips for finding and using information on private companies:

  • Search directory listings, company profiles, and news articles via the databases listed in the "Research specific companies & industries" box above.
  • See if there is local news coverage where the company's headquarters is located. Private companies usually report their financials as "estimates" and the numbers may be outdated by a year or more, so use with discretion! 
  • Make sure to cite your source.
  • Look for private company websites on the Internet. These can hold a lot of useful information about the company.

3.  Find out if the company is a subsidiary, family or foreign owned, or a nonprofit.

  • This information may be on the company's website.
  • Search for the company on Mergent Intellect then click on "Family Tree" on the company overview page.
  • If the company is international and trades on the U.S. Exchanges then it will have to file annual reports with the SEC (20-F). 
  • Many nonprofit company annual reports can be found at

4.  Is the company newsworthy?
Search national news sources to find articles on companies that are doing well or having problems. You might find small private company news in their local media outlets.

(Content adapted from Butler University Libraries 'Company Research' guide.)