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Business Plan Research Tips: Finding Industry and Competitive Information


If you're writing a business plan, you'll need to do some research about your industry and the companies that will be your direct or indirect competition.

The Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) can help. Our collection of premium business databases can provide you with industry overviews, market sizes, trends, and more.

IBISworld logoTo find in-depth industry data, try IBISWorld ; just browse for an industry or search by keyword. You can check out state reports for New York, or any specialized industries. When you find a report for your specific industry, just click on each tab to view the entire report.

First Research logoTo find industry data, financials, trends, and challenges, check out First Research, another database at SIBL. In addition to providing excellent industry overviews, First Research includes "Call Prep," a series of questions you can use when making cold calls to small business owners to research your industry. (Note: PDFs of First Research industry reports can be found in another online database, Mergent Archives.)

.Plunkett Research logoFor more industry data and market trends, try searching within Plunkett Research. Plunkett provides articles on trends in each industry, and includes extensive statistics, plus profiles of companies and associations. It also has a  nice "Build-A-Report" feature, allowing you to create an industry report in just one or two clicks.

Reference USA logoLooking to understand your competition? Try searching the business directory database Reference USA. Start with the "U.S. Businesses" module, choose the "Advanced Search" tab, click to search by "Business Type", and then enter a keyword to find companies in your industry. Next, narrow your results by any criteria you choose: county or ZIP code, company size, and more. To view your results, just update and click. Finally, you can download the details you find to any USB drive.

Be sure to look at the color charts and heat maps that display in your search results. These can be a handy way to illustrate the competitive landscape for your new business.

Please note: The databases listed above are accessible only at SIBL, and are not available at other NYPL locations. If you are unable to visit SIBL, you can access a few business databases from home with a NYPL Library Card, including:

Business Source Premier for articles and industry profiles. Try a search for your industry by keyword, and include the word "Marketline".   

Gale Directory Library provides access to the Encyclopedia of Associations —trade associations can be an excellent source for industry statistics and publications. Use the "Advanced Search" to select the directory to search, and then enter a keyword to describe your industry.