Step 1. Identify the company you want to research.
Step 2. If a public company, use Google Finance or Yahoo! Finance to find the ticker symbol.
The ticker symbol (or stock symbol) is an abbreviation used to uniquely identify publicly traded shares of a particular stock on a particular stock market. It may consist of letters, numbers or a combination of both. Both Google Finance and Yahoo! Finance have a lot of information on companies. This can be a great place to get a snapshot of the company you are researching.
Example, GOOGL is the ticker symbol for Google.
Step 3. Search Business Source Complete and/or LexisNexis Business for articles, SWOT analyses, etc. on your company. For news articles on local companies, search Regional Business News and/or the Times-Picayune.
Step 4. Use your ticker symbol or company name to search for your company in Mergent Online or Standard & Poor's Netdadvantage to find out detailed financial information about the company and its industry.
Step 5. Use your NAICS code to search Industry Statistics Portal.
Industry Statistics Portal is a database that shows you where you can find information on different industries from the U.S. Census Bureau. This site directs you to all sorts of free government data, such as Statistics of U.S. Businesses, Business Expenses, and County Business Patterns. You can search by NAICS to find the sources that have information on your industry, or you can browse the NAICS options on the left side of the screen.
Example, to browse sources that might have info on Google’s industry, I can use the NAICS code 518111. I can click on 51—Information, then 518-Data processing, hosting, and related services. That’s where my number ends, telling me that this site can only find resources that get as specific as 518-Data processing, hosting, and related services.
Step 6. If you are looking at locations, search PolicyMap by address, zip code, city.
PolicyMap can give you data about where you business is or could be. It can also help you with marketing services to certain locations. Using this database, you can find a lot of information on a particular location, including: population density, race, age, gender, language, voter turnout, income, home values, homeowners vs. renters, crime, commuters, transit access, employment, education, health, etc.
Example, I can look for industry information by clicking on Economy and then clicking on Sector. Since I know that Google falls under Information, I can click on Information jobs and search across the country or in my area, 70122.
Step 7. Search for local businesses by keyword or NAICS code with ReferenceUSA.
Unlike public companies, private companies do not have to share any data. However, some do share some information. ReferenceUSA is a good place to find that data. Search by company name, address, or NAICS code.