Entrepreneur's Challenge Business Plan - Research Strategies and Resources

Course Number: MB105

Subject: Business Technology Management

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:

  • Mergent Online

    Enter the company name or ticker symbol in the search box then click "Go".

  • Nexis Uni

    Company profiles including company overviews, securities filings, financials, etc. Under Guided Search > enter the company name > select "Company Profile" from the drop down menu> click "Search".

  • S&P NetAdvantage

    Click on the "Companies" tab at the top of the screen >click "Companies" under the Search Profiles subheading> enter a company name > click "Search"

  • Passport

    Includes data, analysis and dashboards for companies. Enter company name into the top search box.

  • Marketline

    Provides company reports including SWOT analysis. Enter the company name into the search box > select "Company Profiles" from the drop-down menu > then click the “Search” button.

  • Factiva

    Select "Companies/Markets" from the top bar > "Company" > then enter a company name or ticker symbol > click “Go”.

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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.

First Step : Getting Started

Canada, US and International

  • IBISWorld

    Provides Canadian, US and Chinese industry reports containing trends, statistics & analysis on market size, market share of major companies, industry growth rates, major market segments and key external forces affecting supply and demand within the industry. Enter industry keywords, NAICS code, or company names into the search box.

  • S&P NetAdvantage

    Includes detailed information on U.S. and international industries. Click on the "Markets" tab at the top of the screen and select your industry under the Industries subheading or click on "Industry Surveys" under the Market Research subheading.

  • Passport

    Offers industry/market analysis and forecasting. Enter keywords into the top search box, or select an industry from the industry drop-down menus located at the top of the page.

  • 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. Enter in keyword > then select "Industry Profiles" from the drop-down menu > click “Search” > refine your results by geography, date, sub-industry.

  • 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 ProQuest One Business database 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 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.

  • IBISWorld

    Provides Canadian, US and Chinese industry reports containing statistics on market shares of major companies. Enter keywords, NAICS code, or company names into the search box. Within an industry report, the market share information can be found under Major Companies tab if available.

  • Passport

    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. Enter keywords into the top search box or select industries from the Industries tab.

  • 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:

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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

Use the following tools to conduct Five Forces analysis on your selected industry:

  • Marketline

    Run a search for industry reports: type the industry name in the search box, select "Industry Profiles" from the drop-down menu.

  • Nexis Uni

    Select “Company Info” under Guided Search > enter the company name > select "Analyst Reports" from the drop down menu> click "Search".

  • Mergent Online

    Includes investment research reports generated by analysts at research organizations worldwide on publicly traded companies in a wide variety of industries. Click on Investext tab and then select date and other criteria such as industry and contributor.


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: ProQuest One Business, Business Source Complete, Factiva, Nexis Uni. Search for articles using a well-formed search strategy (see below).


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* )


  • "*" 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


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

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


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:

  • Social - examining the demographic and social trends and statistics
    Tools you can use:
    Passport (reports), Statistics Canada: Canadian Census

*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


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)

Census Profiles:
Get statistics for a particular province, region, city, or town. You may search information for neighborhoods by postal code.
2016 Census Profile
2011 Census Profile
Topic-based Tabulations (2016) and (2011)
Find statistics a particular subject like age, family type, or language
Analytical Reports (2016) and (2011)
Get brief analytical reports, based on either topic or geography
2016 Census Profile for K-W Area
Get statistics for a particular province, region, city, or town. Get information for neighbourhoods and search by postal code

Consumer Spending

Survey of Household Spending (SHS)
Connect to Statistics Canada Data --> Enter SHS into the search box --> Select a table from the list by clicking on the table number. Click on "Add/Remove data" tab to customize your report.
can be used to find articles that report on consumer spending behavior in surveys. Click on "Subject" --> under "All Subjects" expand "Content Types" --> click on "Surveys/Polls"--> Enter product name or related product type in the search form. Narrow by date, i.e. "in the last 2 years". Also, can narrow by geographic region. To do so, click "Region". Search or browse for country/province/city name. Click on specific region to add to search. When ready to search, click the search button.

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 Omni 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.

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Citing Sources
Citing Sources
The Laurier Library provides guidance on citing in different styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) and by subject including government publications and data and statistics. You may watch tutorial on how to cite.
Business Citation Guide
Developed by business librarians at Bronfman Business Library at York University, this guide puts together great examples on citing business resources including books, articles, industry reports, company reports, analyst reports from databases.

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