Government and business publications use two sets of codes to collect and organize information. Knowing the codes for your industry or for the industry which your company is a part of will help you to find information about them in library and web resources.
The North American Industry Classification System is commonly used by many online sources of business information including the U.S. Census and library databases like EbscoHost and Proquest. Standard NAICS codes are 6 digits.
The Standard Industrial Classification system is an older system but is still used in many business publications. Most SIC numbers are 4 digits.
Scanning the internal and external environment is an important part of strategic business planning. Environmental factors internal to a given business are typically classified as strengths (S) or weaknesses (W), and those external to a given business can be classified as opportunities (O) or threats (T). Such an analysis of the strategic business environment is referred to as a S.W.O.T. analysis.
Datamonitor Company Profiles is a good source of S.W.O.T. reports.
Image by Xhienne (SWOT pt.svg) [CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons
It can be difficult to find reliable information on private companies. Unlike public companies that trade on a stock exchange, private companies do not have to provide information to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or investors.
Try these tips for finding and using information on private companies: