UCB Libraries

EMEN 5825: Business Plan Preparation

  • Intro


  • Industry
  • Market
  • Financial Plan/
    Funding Sources
  • Business
  • Search


Using the Library


If you do your research away from campus, you'll need to connect through the VPN. Problems with the VPN software should be referred to OIT, the Office of Information Technology.


In addition to books and periodicals in print, CU provides access to a huge number of subscription websites, article databases, and ebooks. Finding these resources can be tricky. If you need a refresher on how to find books, journals, articles, or data owned by the Library, see the "How do I...?" pages.


Of course you will search the Internet or newspapers for general information, but limiting your search to freely-available sources alone may significantly impact your understanding of the big picture.


Research Help


Have questions about using RefWorks, the library catalog, or library databases? Feel free to ask me. I'm available for consultation via email or in person.

Natalia Tingle


(303) 492-3034; Koelbel 200E

Office Hours: 2-4 PM Wednesdays

The handout that was distributed in class can be downloaded here.





NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) and its precursor SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) are a means for organizing disparate business into a category about which statistics and data can be collected.


Think broadly and creatively about where your target fits. Some industries are too new or too odd to fit into an established category. It doesn't hurt to look at more than one industry survey. Likewise, it is often helpful to think of a similar/competing company or brand and see where that company or brand fits into the classification system.


The main standard is the NAICS system, but some agencies and databases continue to use the SIC system for retrieving data. Learn more and search the codes using the links below.

NAICS: North American Industry Classification System


SIC: Standard Industrial Classification


If you have trouble finding the right code, you can always look for a similar company in a database such as Reference USA and find the codes there.


Industry Surveys

Industry surveys can be used for information about the current business environment, regulations, developments, and issues that impact companies operating within that industry.



Trade Publications

Best Databases for Trade Publications

  • Factiva features full-text articles from major world business and financial news sources, company reports, and financial market information. The search interface can be tricky, but the scope of coverage is unmatched.

  • Lexis Nexis Academic also provides full-text articles, news transcripts, country economic and political risk reports, and legal cases.

  • Business & Industry has full-text articles from trade and business publications. Good for industry trends, marketing, strategy, operations, and management best practices.


SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are generally internal to the company, while opportunities and threats are external factors. You can find SWOT analyses for most major companies by searching Business Source Complete for "(company name) AND SWOT".




Market Research Databases

Frost & Sullivan offers market research reports and forecasts. Strong in medical, engineering, biotech, and information & communication technology (ICT) research.

NOTE: Frost & Sullivan may require user sign-in. If the 'Sign In' menu option in the top right corner is activated, you will be prompted to enter your first and last name, as well as a valid University of Colorado email address.


Mintel contains information on consumer trends, demographic profiles, brand share dynamics and market drivers. Best for consumer goods, services, hospitality/tourism, and food & beverage. Search by product, lifestyle attribute, or company.

NOTE: Use is restricted to current UCB students and faculty with a valid Colorado.edu email address. After agreeing to the academic terms of use, click the link for "create a personal profile" and use your Colorado.edu email address for the account.


Additional Sources of Market Data


  • Business Insights: Global is a new database from Gale. Search by company or product for market share, brand share, trends, and more.

  • Business Source Complete offers thousands of market reports. Search by product, company, or region, then use the links on the left side of the search results to limit to market research.


Rankings and Competitors


Business Insights: Global

Research and analyze companies, industries, and economies around the world.




In addition to general "Top 10" lists and brand share rankings, there are hundreds of lists covering a huge range of (sometimes unexpected) topics.


Local Business Resources

Reference USA

Search for businesses by name, keyword, location, or industry. Financial information, employees, and operating expenses are listed as available, even for small businesses.


Boulder County Business Report: Business news, analysis, data, and statistics for Boulder and Broomfield counties. Access the library's subscription content using the link above for full-text articles, or browse headlines at www.bcbr.com.



Consumer Information and Demographics


Library Sources

Consumer Behavior, published annually by Richard K. Miller & Associates, is a comprehensive market research report covering the US population. Eighty-eight chapters cover everything from demographic trends at the national level to buying behavior among different age groups.


American Incomes: Demographics of who has money.


American Buyers: Demographics of shopping.


Colorado Demographics Resource Guide



Government Sources

Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the only Federal survey to provide information on the complete range of consumers' expenditures and incomes, as well as the characteristics of those consumers.


The Statistical Abstract of the United States is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau will no longer produce new volumes after this year. To access the most current data, please refer to the organizations cited in the source notes for each table of the Statistical Abstract.


American Factfinder is the easiest interface for searching census data, and the best source for freely-available data about the demographic characteristics of the US population.



Industry Ratios

Industry Ratios are often used as benchmarks for business or financial projections. The three sources below are available at the Business Library Circulation Desk.



Sometimes you can find industry ratios in an industry survey. The two databases below are your best sources for finding industry ratios online.



Company Financials


Public Companies


  • Business Insights: Global

    Research and analyze companies, industries, and economies around the world. Featuring the tools you need to interpret a global business landscape: robust data sets, visualization tools to help you develop data-driven insights, case studies to broaden your perspective on real-life situations.


  • Lexis Nexis

    Access company data from sources such as Dun & Bradstreet, Morningstar, Hoover's, and Standard & Poor's in one location called the "Company Dossier." Use this search to quickly find the dossier.


  • Mergent Online

    Search by company name, ticker, SIC or NAICS code. Use the Mergent Toolbox to easily create spreadsheets and reports comparing up to 500 companies simultaneously.


  • Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage

    Search by company name or ticker, then use the links on the left for valuation, financials, competitors, and stock reports


Private Companies


  • PrivCo

    Private company financials and revenues, private M&A deals and deal multiples, private firm valuations, venture capital fundings, private equity deals, private and family ownership breakdowns, bankruptcies, restructurings, and more. Note: available only in the Business Library.


  • Lexis Nexis

    Lexis Nexis is incredibly valuable for private company data as well. Use this link to find in-depth information about private companies, venture capital firms, and others.




Private Equity Info

  • Private Equity Info is a regularly-updated, powerful database of private equity firms, hedge funds, mezzanine investors, small business investment companies, valuation firms, M&A advisory firms, institutional real estate investors and senior lenders.
  • NOTE: Use is restricted to current UCB students and faculty. Ask a business library employee to log in with username and password.



Operations and Distribution
Thomas Register of American Manufacturers
  • Directory of products/services of 173,000 U.S. and Canadian companies.


Business Planning Guides


Business Plans Handbook

  • Collection of actual business plans (company names are changed) in a wide range of industries
  • Includes a business plan template, two fictional business plans, a listing of organizations, agencies, and consultants, glossary and bibliography


The Entrepreneur's Guide to Writing Business Plans and Proposals (e-book)

  • Step-by-step guide to developing a business plan, marketing plan, and financial forecast


The New Business Road Test: What entrepreneurs and executives should do before writing a business plan



Business Terms

In addition to Wikipedia and Investopedia, you may need to consult a business dictionary or encyclopedia when you encounter unfamiliar terms. Here are several available to you through the Library.


Search Strategy

Think before you search. No matter which search tool you use (databases, Google, interviews), it always helps to have a search strategy. A little planning at the beginning of your research process will save time. Frame your search strategy in terms of the data pieces you will need to create your business plan.


  • What types of information will you need in order to support your idea?
  • What might that information look like? Balance sheets? Supplier contacts? Competitor analysis? Demographic trends?
  • Who might keep track of that data? The Census Bureau? Trade groups or professional associations? Marketers? Distributors? Regulatory agencies?
  • Is the data likely to be freely available or hidden behind a paywall?
  • Is there more than one keyword that could describe the concept?


Some topics to consider are:


  • What problem are you attempting to solve?
  • Who are your customers? How do you plan to reach them?
  • What is the market for your product or service? It is growing, stable, or shrinking?
  • Who are your competitors? What sets you apart?
  • What will you need to make this business happen? Suppliers? Employees? Funding?

Brainstorm as many ideas as you can about these points. Think about where you would search to find answers to these questions. You may want to look at sites that feature customer reviews, such as Yelp! or Amazon.


It can be helpful to examine a business plan for a similar venture. A similar company's business plan gives you a starting place for considering what kinds of evidence you will need to present in your own plan. One place to find business plans is the Business Plans Handbook, a subscription source provided by the Library.