Is the company public or private? Public companies are required to report information about their company to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These reports are available to the public, giving you access to large amounts of data. Private and non-profit companies have less information published about them, you may need to speculate based on information on competitors or the industry as a whole.
Is it a parent company or a subsidiary? When researching a subsidiary or division you may need to research the parent company in addition to the individual subdivision.
Is the company based in the U.S. or internationally? Determine the location of your company early in your search; this will determine which information resources will best suit your needs.
Newsworthiness – consider any big events that have occurred recently in your company. Use newspapers, magazines, and other popular publications to find out if they have hired a new CEO, produced a new product, or introduced new strategies.
Consider alternative sources of information – Government agencies, trade associations, competitors, suppliers, labor unions, or the company itself (annual reports, websites, or contacting the company and asking well-informed questions).
Sector - Your industry may fall under manufacturing, wholesale, retail, service, or a combination.
Classification - There are two systems of industry classification codes in the United States: SIC and NAICS.
Size - How many companies are operating in your industry? How many products are involved? Do public companies or private companies make up the majority of the industry? Is the parent company part of the same industry?
Geographic Scope - Is the industry local, national, or international? Does it rely on importing or exporting goods?
Target Market - Is the industry consumer-driven or business-to-business? Who is likely to purchase the product or service?
Regulation - How highly regulated is the industry? What agencies oversee regulations, if any? What types of permits, licenses, or professional accreditation are required in/of the industry?
Social and Environmental Factors - What world events, trends, or environmental conditions might have an effect on your industry?