UCB Libraries

ESBM 4100: Writing a Venture Plan

This is the guide for ESBM 4100, Writing a Venture Plan. This guide contains resources to help you get started on your research.

  • Getting Started
  • Market Research
  • Company and Industry Research
  • More Help
This guide can be used to find resources or to remember the research process, each tab can be used independently or as part of the whole process.

Useful Library Resources

  • Business Library Home Page
    The Business Library web site links to all of the resources (and much more) mentioned in this guide, in addition you can browse for specific resources using the drop down menu at the top to find resources on a particular topic.
  • How do I...?
    These guides provide quick tips on how to find books, cite resources, and much more.
  • Off-Campus Access
    The majority of resources mentioned on this guide are subscribed to and you need to download the VPN to access them from off campus. This page walks you through the steps of setting up your laptop or mobile device to access these resources off campus.
  • Chinook, the library catalog
    While the majority of your research will be conducted in databases, you may want to check out the library catalog to see if there are any books, government reports or anything else that might be able to assist you in your papers.
Starting your Research

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.

Get started by filling in this table, which you will continue to update as you search.
Your Company                   
Competitors/Similar Companies                                                                                                      
NAICS/SIC codes                                                                                                      

As we work throughout the various resources, you will also want to think about some other questions, such as:

  • 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 in a database or even released at all?
  • 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?
Business Plans

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
  • This is a link to all the volumes in this series, you can search within the series in the box on the left or use the facets to narrow the results to the materials you are interested in.
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

Business Plans Library Guide
A list of even more sources for help writing business plans for the Leeds School, Small Business Administration and more.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines marketing as "the action, business, or process of promoting and selling a product, etc., including market research, advertising, and distribution" ("marketing, n.". OED Online. June 2012. Oxford University Press. 28 August 2012).


Mintel CU provides market research containing information on consumer trends, demographic profiles, brand share dynamics and market drivers. There are over 800 individual reports now available in 13 categories, with data covering US and select International Markets.

You need to register using your colorado.edu email address to use this database.

When searching you can browse or search for reports on your industry's market. When searching, try using broad terms for your industry, then you will get reports not only on your industry, but also on the consumers as well. See the results below searching for "pet":

Mintel "Pet" Search Results
These results not only talk about the market for pet food, supplies, and retail establishments, but also give information on pet owners.

Step 2: Hoover's

Hoover's CU can provide marketing information, but you will need a list of similar companies to your industry first. You can find that by searching for your industry and clicking on the top companies or search directly for the company.
Hoover's Company Categories

A few highlights:
Competition: This category discovers the names of your competition as well as providing a link to a competitive landscape, which provides information on the industry size, scope and earnings.

Industry Information: This provides links to all the industries the company belongs to as well as their SIC and NAICS codes for the industries.

Additional Resources

Still not finding what you are looking for? You can find even more databases in Business - Marketing and Advertising Information.

Doing industry and company research is an intertwined experience. Many of the same databases will work for industry and company research and the discoveries in one area help your research in other areas.

Step 1: Hoover's

Hoover's CU is a good source for both company and industry information and is a great place to begin researching the context of your company. Hoover's Search BoxYou can search across all the tabs or search just for a particular company or industry by clicking on that tab.

Company Research

Hoover's Company Categories

A few highlights:
Competition: This category helps you discover the names of your competition as well as providing a link to a competitive landscape, which provides information on the industry size, scope and earnings.

Industry Information: This provides links to all the industries the company belongs to as well as their SIC and NAICS codes for the industries.

Industry Research

Hoover's Industry Categories
A few highlights:

Companies List: Having trouble finding names of similar companies? Check this out for the names and links to their full profiles.

Trends and Opportunities versus Business Challenges: These are the two sides of the coin. Trends and Opportunities is the positive side and Business Challenges is the negative side.

Associated Industry Codes: These are the SIC and NAICS codes for your industry. These codes can be used to search in many of the other databases and will link you more quickly to exactly what you are looking for.

Step 2: Industry Ratios

As you conduct your research it is helpful to know about the financial information of similar companies. These three books (the first two were the ones used in class), take those SIC and NAICS codes you found earlier and connect you with financial information on similar companies.


Want even more?

ReferenceUSA CU is a great source of information on companies, with very granular and detailed information. This is where you begin to start getting an idea of your competitors, you can focus in not only based on industry, but also geography.

The University of Texas at Austin has created a great video demonstrating how you make a list of companies in ReferenceUSA:

Still looking for more? You can find additional databases on this topic under Business - Company Directories, Business - Company Information and Business - Industry Information.


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SIC, Standard Industrial Classification, and NAICS, North American Industrial Classification System, are used by companies in the US, Mexico and Canada to identify their industry category.