Business research guide

Worthington Libraries provides a great deal of information for people interested in conducting business and industry research. Both Northwest Library and Old Worthington Library maintain a "Business Table."

Many of the most popular and useful items on this list can be found there. If you're looking for business books, check the following call numbers:

  • 332 (financial economics, personal finance, investing),
  • 338 (production and industries),
  • 670 (manufacturing),
  • 658 (marketing).

Keep in mind, the nature of this information is such that not all companies and industries are represented equally. It is possible that in certain instances very little information will be available on a particular company.

In most cases, the following general rules apply. It is easier to find information on larger companies than smaller ones. Likewise, it is easier to find information on publicly owned companies than privately held ones. Companies that are subsidiaries of larger entities pose special problems. Often, information about subsidiaries is "absorbed" into the records of the parent companies. With all these factors to consider, it is a good idea to begin any company research by determining such things as size, location, ownership and hierarchy.

General business directories

These sources typically provide company addresses, phone numbers, sales and employment estimates and contact information. They are often a good place to begin researching a company, as they answer many of the basic questions that will help guide subsequent searching.

  • D&B Million Dollar Directory Updated annually. [R 338.74 (OWL)]
    A five-volume national directory that provides basic information about approximately 160,000 public and private companies. Indexes organize companies by industry and location.
  • LexisNexis Corporate Affiliations Revised annually. [R 338.74 DIR]
    This eight-volume directory provides basic information on both private and public companies, including divisions, subsidiaries and affiliations.
  • Reference USA (database)
    Available from home with a valid library card Reference USA is a national business directory with fully customizable searching.
  • ThomasNet
    ThomasNet provides online access to the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers. The database is searchable by product or service, company name or brand name. Information includes a brief company profile, web address and a contact form.

Regional business directories

These directories focus on companies at the state and local level. Entries typically include address, phone number, company size and type of business. In some cases, officers and contact persons are listed.

Specialized directories

Many business directories focus on one particular industry. Some of the most popular are listed below.

Detailed company information, annual reports and SEC filings

In many cases, the information available from directories is just a starting point. If you need in-depth financial information, company histories or investment reports, Worthington Libraries has resources that can help. In general, the following sources cover fewer companies than the directories listed above, but they do so in much more detail. A number of these resources provide links to news stories, press releases and industry information.

  • Hoovers Online Corporate Information (database)
    Hoovers Online contains a tremendous amount of information, including company profiles, industry profiles and news sources. Check out their section "IPO Central" for a listing of the most recent companies to go public.
  • U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission
    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website allows users to search for reports filed with the SEC by qualifying public companies. This includes annual reports, quarterly filings and more.

Local business news

Newspaper and magazine articles are a good place to find information about companies and industries. In addition to print subscriptions for the Wall Street Journal, the Columbus Dispatch, Business First and others, Worthington Libraries offers the following sources to help you locate business news. Additionally, many search engines host news pages with a focus on business news. Check the Google, Yahoo! and CNN websites for examples.

  • Business First
    The current issue, plus a searchable archive, is available.
  • The Columbus Dispatch Archive (database)
    This database makes it possible to search for locally produced Dispatch articles from 1985 on. It is often a great source for information on local business developments.

Market research and demographics

  • Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand [R 658.834 BES]
    Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, best Customers reveals the biggest and best customers for hundreds of individual products and services.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a myriad of statistics, from employment trends to salary surveys to consumer spending.
  • Business Decision (database)
    This powerful demographic and marketing database contains consumer household information, market segmentation profiles, population forecasts and demographic data. Users can customize an area of study using the GIS mapping features.
  • Household Spending: Who Spends How Much on What [R 658.8343 LIF]
    Using unpublished data culled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, household spending reports how American households allocate their spending.
  • Melissa Data
    A genuine treasure trove of geographic, demographic and statistical information, this free service from MelissaData includes lookups for ZIP codes, phone numbers, street names, school district maps, congressional maps and more.
  • The United States Census Bureau
    The Census Bureau provides a wide range of statistics. In addition to the traditional demographic profiles, they also provide a wealth of economic data.

Industry information

Hoovers (see above) provides industry overviews and rankings. The following directories may include major companies in various sectors and their market share.

revised February 2015