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Business Plans

Resources to help students write a business plan.

Questions To Ask

Before you begin researching your competitors, you should know a little bit of information about this company or these companies.

Why?  It'll impact where you search and the amount of information that you find.   Ask:

  1. Is the company public or private?
  2. Is the company a subsidiary?
  3. Is the company American or international?

Image Source:  BNLG.   CC BY-SA 3.0.  Wikimedia Commons.

Private companies are more difficult to research;  they do not have to disclose any information to the public.

Public companies are easiest to research.  They are regulated by the government (in the U.S., it's the SEC), sell shares to the general public, and must publically report company and financial information.

Subsidiary companies will not have their own annual reports, and you may not find information on them in the resources listed on this page.  You'll need to determine who the parent company is and research the parent company.  Journal articles will be a major source for information on subsidiaries.

International companies also won't be included in some of the databases, such as NetAdvantage.  Check Mergent or Business Source Complete for international company information.

Company Profiles

Company profiles provide succinct overviews of a company--company history, key facts,  top executives, major products and services, competitors,  locations, subsidiaries.





Image source: Orich Company Logo.  Wikimedia Commons.  CC BY-SA 3.0.

Competitor Satisfaction

How do customers view the service or product they use now? Are there satisfaction studies on your competitors' products or services? Try searching for your product or service and satisfaction.  Some databases may even have a subject heading for customer satisfaction.


Image Source:  Grooveshark.  Public Domain.  Wikimedia Commons.


How will you differentiate your product or service? What would provide value to customers?

Consult and other portals to learn which research companies sell reports on your area of interest. These reports include information about the market and emerging trends. We do not subscribe to these resources and reports can be very expensive. However, information can be gleaned from the abstracts and tables of contents.

  1. Create a free account and check detailed Table of Contents, this can sometimes lead you to key companies to follow up on.
  2. Take note of the name of the firm and the analyst.
  3. Search the web, or  Business Source Complete for names and industry keywords (e.g. stents and frost and sullivan).

Image source: Lmedina160.  Salmon Cove Logo.  CC BY-SA 3.0.  Wikimedia Commons.