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Business Research Guide

A research guide relating to business, acounting, managment, marketing, sales, and business administration.

Getting Started

To  investigate a company, you'll want to search for three areas of business information:


  • Information that the company provides about itself, usually from its website, social media channels, and publications.
  • Information from third-party entities that produce company profiles. and business-related websites that offer commentary and analysis. Company profiles provide information about the company's history, key employees, major services/products, competitors, and revenues.
  • Official financial filings for public companies, and any financial information that is publicly available.

Industries & Markets

  • Information about the industry to which the company belongs (see the Industry Research page).
  • Customer data and characteristics (see the Market Research page).

Business News

  • Newspaper, magazine or trade journal stories about all aspects of the company, its leadership, and its industry.

Finding information about public companies is easier than for private companies. Many nationally known public companies will have a profile in the Library's business databases. 

Getting Stuck?

If you need ideas for a search strategy or have hit a roadblock, that's the time to reach out to Sue Gray, the business librarian, at

Step 1. Find the Company Website

  • Do an internet search to locate the company's website (if you're not allowed to use the website, skip to Step 2).
  • Look for an annual report on the website. If one isn't available, try searching (note that not all reports are free).

Step 2. Search for a Company Profile

Public company profiles are available in Business Source Premier and Business Insights: Global. Each database contains overlapping, but slightly different information, so it can be useful to search for a company in both databases to get the most information possible. Note that only large, high-profile Minnesota public companies will have a profile in either database.

Make certain that you know the official name of the company; this will make it easier to identify it (do a quick internet search, if necessary). Is the company you're researching a subsidiary (owned by a parent company)? For example, Häagen-Dazs is a subsidiary of General Mills. You won't find a company profile for it, but you will for General Mills as the parent company. Subsidiary companies may have their own website or you may find information on the parent company's website.

Step 3. Find News & Articles

Use the Library's databases to search for newspaper, magazine or trade journal articles about the company and its leadership. The Library subscribes to most of the major business publications such as Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and more.

Company Financials

These mostly free websites provide financial information about individual companies, the economy and markets. Search companies by name or ticker symbol.

The EDGAR database provides free public access to business information, allowing you to research a public company’s financial information and operations by reviewing the filings the company makes with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A 10-K report is more detailed than the annual report provided to shareholders, and includes information such as risk factors, legal proceedings, financial statements, governance, executive compensation, and more. Typically, a 10-K is used by investors and analysts to evaluate the company.

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