Entrepreneur's Challenge Business Plan - Research strategies and resources

Course #: MB105

Introduction to Library Research

General Tips

  • Start with the Library Resources before hitting Google
  • Much quicker and comprehensive in most cases
  • Very reliable as most information is written by the industry experts or collected by people in the industry

Google vs. Library Research

Use your critical thinking and judgement skills no matter what source you use. My suggestion is,

  • Start with the Library. Search in a Timely manner.
  • Supplement with Google. But beware of sources.
  • Demonstrate your thought process and state your assumptions to validate your analysis.

If you are off-campus, make sure to log in for off-campus access before you start.

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Introduction to Company Research

How to find company history, financials, comparative ratios, etc...

First step

Determine if you are researching a private or public company. If you choose a private company, the information is extremely limited and you have to rely on the company to give you the information. If you don't know, you can check the following websites to see if the company is listed. If you can't find the company in these resources, it is most likely a private company.

Second step

Search for more information on the company in the following databases:

  • Canadian: Infomart

    Click "Company Snaphots" in the left hand column and enter the company name or ticker symbol in the search box then click "Search".

  • US: Mergent Online

    Enter the company name or ticker symbol in the search box then click "Go". Learn how to find company financials and ratios using Mergent Online from this video tutorial.

  • LexisNexis Academic (company profiles including company overviews, securities filings, financials, etc.)
  • S&P NetAdvantage (brief company snapshots)
  • Thomson One (company overviews, SWOT analyses and analyst reports)
  • Marketline (company reports including SWOT analysis). Top of page

Introduction to Industry and Market Research

This guide will show you how to find industry/market information on trends, market share, market size, competitive forces, etc. Please note that all databases below may also be used to search for company information.

Introduction and Overview of Industry/Market Research Databases

First Step : Getting Started

Canada
  • Infomart

    Provides detailed Canadian industry information.

Canada, US and International
  • Standard and Poor's NetAdvantage

    Includes detailed information on U.S. and international industries.

  • Passport (Euromonitor International's Global Market Information database)

    Contains market research on countries, markets and companies. It provides country demographics and economic conditions; consumer lifestyle profiles; sales volume, value and forecasts for retail products; major brands and companies.

  • Marketline

    The reports provide data on market size, segmentation, share and distribution data for 150 consumer products in 55 countries. The analysis is based on SWOT, Porter’s Five Forces and PEST (or PESTLE) and also includes expert future forecast analysis. Learn how to conduct international industry research using Marketline from this video tutorial.

  • Market Share Reporter

    Provides data and market descriptions, a list of producers/ products along with their market share, and more. Market Share Reports are provided for individual brands and products.

Second Step: Covering All Your Bases

  • Look for additional databases, trade journals & newspapers in the Industry Research guide.

Third Step: Calculating Market Share

What is market share?

  • The percentage (or portion) of sales of a product, company or brand in a given region or country
  • Used by companies to review their competitive performance from year to year
  • Not always readily available - you often have to piece together the information yourself from a variety of sources (e.g., newspaper & magazine articles, industry & company reports, web pages, personal contacts, etc.)

Market share resources:

For articles related to market share, search in ABI/Inform Complete and related ProQuest Business databases or Business Source Complete. Where possible use the company name AND the phrase "market share" or "brand share" when searching in article databases. Market share information may be available in special issues of trade journals - search ABI/Inform Trade & Industry.

  • Market Share Reporter
  • Provides some information on market share for Canadian products, companies and/or services but main focus is U.S. and International. Search by product, company name or industry classification codes.
  • Passport
  • Produced by Euromonitor, Passport GMID provides data on market shares, brand shares and retail shares of companies and products globally or by country/region. Market share data is generally included in the "Market Data" section of industry reports.
  • Marketline
  • Formerly Datamonitor 360, Marketline contains market share data of leading companies by industry. Market share data is found in industry reports, under "Market Segmentation".

How to calculate market share:

The following are "User Guides" for each database:

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Finding Competitive analysis

Getting Started

  1. Select an appropriate industry for your business.
    • Determining your industry designation or classification code can be helpful to get a sense of your industry.
    • The two most common industry classification systems are NAICS and SIC. Both are hierarchical, organized by broad industry categories, each divided into more specific industries.
    • Note: If you are researching a very specific or new industry, it may not be included in these industry classification systems.

Five Forces Analysis using Industry databases

  1. Use the following tools to conduct Five Forces analysis on your selected industry:
  2. Database: Marketline (run a search for industry reports - type the industry name in the search box. Consult the video tutorial "International industry research: Marketline" for assistance finding Five Forces analysis)
  3. Database: Thomson One (look in analyst reports – see video tutorial “Analyst reports: Thomson One”)
Tip

There is not a ready-made Five Forces analysis available for every industry. If you cannot find one, consider searching for a related industry and evaluate whether or not the same factors apply to the industry you are researching.

Five Forces Analysis using Journal databases

Consider running a search in trade journal databases: ABI/Inform Complete, Business Source Complete, Factiva, LexisNexis Academic. Search for articles using a well-formed search strategy (see below).

Tip

Use a company or industry name combined with the following suggested sample search terms in any of the above trade journal databases.

Five Forces Search Strategies
  • Buyer Power
    • (size OR concentration* OR market share* OR position* OR dominan*)

  • Bargaining Power of Suppliers
    • (bargain* OR negotiat*)

  • Rivalry
    • (marketplace OR compet* OR market share* OR market size* OR dominan* OR position* OR segment*)

  • Threat of Substitution
    • (differentiat* OR unique* OR new OR improv*)

  • Threat of New entrant
    • (buyer* OR customer* OR consumer*) AND (preference* OR motivat* OR behavior* OR attitude* OR loyalt* )
Tips
  • "*" is a truncation symbol for variation word endings
  • Boolean operators, AND, OR & NOT are used to connect search terms
  • For searching help, click the "?", "Help", or "Tips" buttons on any of the trade journal databases.

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Finding PEST analysis

What is PEST/PESTLE?

PEST/PESTLE stands for the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors that impact a company. These are known as “external factors”.

How can I find information on PEST?

You can find a complete PEST country analysis report using Marketline. Conduct a country search to locate a PEST report.

Tip

Split up each letter or factor separately, i.e. "P – political", and do research on it using the recommended tools for the letter.

Consult the following tools to consider each P.E.S.T factor:

*Be sure to uncheck all databases, with the exception of Associations Canada.

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Finding Market potential

Determining Market Potential

Examine the market size, location, target customer, consumer spending behaviour, potential revenue stream, etc. for your new business.

Market size
Location
Target customer
Consumer spending behaviour & patterns
Revenue stream

*Be sure to uncheck all databases, with the exception of Associations Canada.

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Sales Forecasting

Definition: The process of projecting what your sales revenue will be for a specific period in the future, i.e. in the coming year or quarter. An accurate sales forecast is important to understanding and managing sales activities as well as for financial planning purposes such as managing cash flow and planning production & logistics capacity.

Top down forecast

Examine variables such as market size and adoption rate that will help you to arrive at a revenue estimate. The following are resources that can assist with finding these factors:

Target Demographics (market size)
Example 1: Census of Canada

Tip: Start at the Data & Statistics subject guide on the library website to find quick links to Census Profiles for local markets.

Example 2: National Household Survey (NHS)

Tip: Start at the Data & Statistics subject guide and scroll down to locate quick links to NHS Profiles for local markets.

Consumer Spending
Example 1: Survey of Household Spending (SHS) via <odesi> can help determine the likelihood of a consumer to purchase or use a product or service, respectively.

Step 1: On the Odesi homepage, click on Browse at top right.

Step 2: select "<odesi>(Click to View Categories) " link at top left.

Step 3: select "Consumer Surveys". Click through to "Survey of Household Spending (SHS)".

Step 4: select most recent year.

Step 5: click "Metadata" then "Study Description" through to "Data Access". Under Other Study Description Materials > Related Materials select CANSIM table: Survey of Household Spending - 3508.

Example 2: Factiva can be used to find articles that report on consumer spending behaviour in surveys.

Tip: Click "Subject" then under "All Subjects" expand "Content Types" > click on "Surveys/Polls". Also, can narrow by geographic region. Click "Region" > enter country/province/city name in search box found "All regions".

Bottom up forecast

Examine variables such as number of potential customers, number of leads, sales conversion rate, % of repeat sales, that will help you to arrive at a revenue estimate. The following are resources that can assist with finding these factors:

Industry profiles

Tip: National industry reports and profiles are found in a number of key databases accessible from the Business subject page. Click on the Industry research tab. Useful for determining potential customer base.

Example: Find market or industry information on the Industry Canada website.

Trade Associations

Example: Locate specific associations via Associations Canada. Association websites will often carry industry and consumer statistics.

Tip: Deselect all resources except Associations Canada.

University student demographics

Tip: Check a university's registrar office website for enrollment numbers. Useful for determining potential customer base.

Example: Laurier’s Office of the Registrar

Business & Company Directories

Example: Scott’s Directories

Tip: Select "Account Login" and log out when finished. You can search for and generate a list of lead businesses (by product or NAICS) in a particular geographic area.

City directories

Tip: Search “Vernon city directory” in PRIMO to find directories for multiple cities. You can locate lead businesses by SIC classification in a particular city.

Primary Sources

Tip: The bottom up approach typically requires primary research. You may want to consider contacting or visiting stores/businesses in your target area.

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Estimating Costs

Having trouble finding costs for your entrepreneur's challenge? What about numbers for your proforma balance sheet and proforma income statement? This guide will help you with the financial section of your business plan.

Costs such as production, shipping and advertising can be very difficult to find because companies are not inclined to release this information and only publicly-traded companies are compelled to disclose some of it. Moreover, publicly-traded companies are not necessarily the best comparator for startups. Nevertheless, below you will find the steps to guide you through one resource that allows you to benchmark your costs against smaller enterprises.

Financial Performance Data

Industry Canada’s Financial Performance Data (formerly the SME Benchmarking Tool) can help start-ups by outlining the cost structure of businesses in your industry at different revenue levels. As such, it can also help you project your costs as your business grows. Follow the steps below to create a customized report. Here you can find information on small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) with annual revenues between $30,000 and $5,000,000. If you want more information about the Financial Performance Data site (formerly the SME Benchmarking Tool), read the FAQs.

Report Criteria Selection

Step 1: Start on the Report Criteria page.

Step 2: Select the geographic market of your business. The default is Canada but you can select a province or territory.

Step 3: Select incorporation status. You have three choices – incorporated, unincorporated and all businesses - to make comparisons with the most appropriate group of businesses. Be aware that the financial information available varies by incorporation status. Read the FAQs for details.

Step 4: Select how you want the values to display: as a percentage of total revenue or in a dollar amount (1000s). Click Continue.

Industry Selection

Step 5: Select your industry. Businesses are grouped according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) which uses a numeric code to classify industries. If you know the NAICS code, enter it in the text box. If you do not know your industry code, find it by keyword searching or browsing a list of valid codes. NAICS is hierarchical. The more detailed codes (5 or 6 digits) might provide the best comparison group for your business. However, the data available for more detailed classifications might be limited, so consider looking at a broader industry grouping of which your business is part. You can find out more about NAICS by visiting the Industry tab of the Business Subject Guide.

Step 6: Click Continue to generate your report. The reports include information on the entire industry, as well as comparison groups (both halves and quartiles) so that you can compare businesses closest in size (based on revenue level) to your business.

Export Report

Step 7: Click Export Report to Excel.

Add your Own Data

Step 8: Click “Add your data to the report” above Report details to enter your own Revenue and Expense item information. Your data will be displayed beside the industry averages in the report. This may help you project how the cost structure for your business may change as your business grows and revenue levels increase.