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Business Research

conference room Company Information Sources

  • Company website -- Will contain useful information but be aware of bias.
  • Journal and newspaper articles -- Click on "Magazines, Journals, and Newspapers" tab on this research guide for specific databases.
  • Books -- Some larger companies have entire books about them; others may have chapters or sections in books.  Click on the "Books and eBooks" tab on this research guide for specific sources.
  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission -- The SEC collects financial information on public U.S. companies and makes that information available to the public via EDGAR, a searchable database of company reports including 10-K reports
  • Brief video on finding 10-K reports

Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash

NAICS & SIC Industry Codes


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.

Find NAICS codes


The Standard Industrial Classification system is an older system but is still used in many business publications. Most SIC numbers are 4 digits.

Find SIC codes

Chart of Swat Analysis, Four quadrants, one Strengths, next labled Weaknees, the third labled Oppertunities, and the final labeled Threats

S.W.O.T. Analysis Explained

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


Finding Information on Private Companies


Hoover's Handbook of Private Companies book coverIt 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:

  • Look for directory listings, company profiles, and news articles using the Library's databases.
  •  Try to find local news coverage in the areas where the company's headquarters or other facilities are located.  The ProQuest Newspapers database includes hundreds of regional and local newspapers.
  •  Financials for private companies are often reported as "estimates."  The figures may be outdated by a year or more.  Use with discretion, and always cite your source.
  • Check the Internet.  Many private companies have websites with useful information