BA 495 Business Strategy: Company/Nonprofit

Nonprofit Research Guide

Public Company Financial Data



Free Websites for Company Profiles

The following sites are mostly free, but some content might require a fee from individual users:

Company Profiles



Creating Your Own SWOT Analysis

Create your own SWOT analysis by collecting information from multiple sources, such as company profiles, industry & market information, and news. If you are researching on a public company, take a look at its Annual Report (or 10-K), especially the section "Risk Factors." 

Here are some other tips on doing your own SWOT analysis (remember S&W are internal, while O&T are external)

Explore the company website

  • What kind of service/product do they provide?
  • What kind of customer needs are they meeting? 
  • What's their customer value proposition?

Interview the company, if possible. State that you are a student researching on the company for academic work, and that you will agree to sign any non-disclosure agreement. Call and ask them nicely. You might be surprised! * Most of the "internal information" (e.g., HR practices) of small private firms is highly unlikely to be available in secondary sources; in this case, talking with the company is the only way.

Read reviews, if available. Although customer reviews can be biased and unreliable, consistently positive or negative reviews should be taken into account. Consumers often find weaknesses that the company may not be aware of. However, be realistic -- you can't be all things to all people. Always keep your target market in mind.

Take a look at the competitors:

  • If your competitors are large/public companies, chances are there are readily available SWOT reports on them. Go through their SWOT to compare your company with them. The opportunities and threats are external factors that will have an impact on all companies, including yours, in the same industry.
  • Consider the following:
    • What kind of service/product do the competitors provide?
    • What are your company's competitive advantages? For example, unique product/service, location, size, customer service, price, etc..? How does your company differentiate itself from others (i.e., what's its niche)?

Research the industry: 

  • The library database IBISWorld has a SWOT analysis on the industry.
  • Current industry landscape
  • Industry forecast and emerging trends

Do an environmental scanwhat environmental factors may have an impact on the market your company's in? Any emerging trends? Disruptive forces? What are the opportunities and threats? Feel free to incorporate your personal observations and experiences.

Private Companies

In the US, private companies are not required to release their financials. Therefore, most of the time you won't be able to get detailed financial statements on a private firm. Here are some strategies on researching a private company:

  • Company websites and social media channels: your company's vs. your competitors'
  • Shopping sites: why buy from them (price, quality, service)?
  • Company profile databases: find revenue data (self-reported or estimates) and other limited information (depending on the size of the private firm) from the sources suggested below.
  • Industry/market research reports: trends, competition, main players.
  • Use industry benchmarks as proxy (e.g., you probably won't be able to obtain financial statements on your competitors that are private firms, but industry benchmark data might shed some light). 
  • Consumer profiles: demographics and psychographics
  • Search for news stories on the company (using library databases or Google). This is especially important when the company is local and/or small. The company might have been covered in newspapers, trade publications, TV segments, or blogs.

Private Company Research Tips

Business Filings