This is the "Getting Started" page of the "Industry Research" guide.
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Industry Research   Tags: business, companies  

Last Updated: May 17, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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In this guide you'll find some of our most-used resources for researching industries. Keep in mind that gathering information about an industry can be very different each time you do it. Sometimes, you may be researching a large industry, with many companies who are publicly-owned, like the auto, airline, and retail industry. In this case, you'll probably find a lot of information that you'll need to sift through. Other times, when researching small industries with just a few companies or companies that are mostly privately-owned (such as the wooden toy industry or bagged ice industry) you may need to try all of these sources to put together a picture of what's going on in the industry and how it operates.

Start with the Government!

I usually recommend when doing industry research that you start by finding out what classification number the U.S. Government has assigned to that industry. They collect a lot of data about industries and make it available for free to everyone.

  • North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS)  Icon
    This is the classification system used by the U.S. Government. Use the Search box on the left to enter in a keyword or two about your industry to find out how they classify it. You will get anywhere from a two-digit (very general) to a six-digit (very specific) classification number. Write this number down. You can use it to search other government sites and business databases to find info on your industry!
  • U.S. Economic Census  
    Taken every 5 years, the Economic Census tries to count all the businesses in the U.S. and gather other data about them so we get a sense of how our economy changes. It includes info such as total revenues for an industry, employment, geographic distribution of companies in an industry, etc.

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