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EI 201: Real Business Experience (all sections)


This LibGuide has been prepared for students in the EI201 course to help with secondary research assignments.

Questions?  Ask your Business Librarian by going to the "Contact Librarian" box on this guide.

Research Resources

Not sure which research database to use?  Go to the Business Database Help LibGuide to connect with the best database for your information needs.

Start with the IBISWorld database for reports that provide information on the industry in which the company operates.  Reports are available for both broad and more specifically defined industries (ex:  restaurants vs. fast food or retail trade vs. women's clothing stores).  

Important: Use the table of contents found in the left menu of the reports to get to detailed information, such as the industry SWOT analysis and competitive landscape. 

*If you do not find what you need in the IBISWorld industry reports, try the First Research database next.

Start with the Mintel Reports database for information on the target customer.

  1. Use the box found on the left side of the Mintel Reports search screen to enter the company name or keywords for the industry. Tip:  You will likely have more luck finding information on customers by searching for a report related to the industry rather than a company.  Also remember that an industry may have several sectors. (ex:  fast food, full service, etc.). 
  2. It is easier to find information on the results page by using the "List View."  You can change from a Grid View to a List View by using the icons on the right side of the screen. 
  3. Note:  For the most detailed information, use the "Content types" menu to filter results to "Reports." 
  4. In the reports look at the "Databook" to find results of consumer surveys. 
  5. If you have never used Mintel Reports, you should first complete the brief tutorial linked below. 

Statista (linked below) is also a helpful and easy-to-use database for consumer information, plus more.

For public companies: Start with the Business Source Complete database to find a company profile.  For company financials, including competitor comparisons, go to the "Financials" tab in this research resources box.

IMPORTANT:  Read the instructions below to make sure you are finding the detailed "Company Profile" in the Business Source Complete database and not just the limited information available from the "Company Information" option. 

*If you do not find what you need in the Business Source Complete company profile, try the Mergent Intellect database next.  To create a list of competitors, use the "Advanced Search" option in Mergent Intellect.

See below for tips on using a company's website for research.

Company Headquarters:  Look for the company's headquarters address, especially the city/state.  This helps with research when the company has numerous locations and you are trying to find the corporate profile in a database.  

A public company's website targets at least two audiences: 1) Customers and 2) Investors 

  • Customers: The opening screen is usually set up for the company's customers.  Here you can review product and service listings, online pricing and menus, promotional content, and much more.  Also look for the company's social media presence on its website to explore how the company uses social media platforms. 
  • Investors:   The Investors section is often found at the bottom of the website.  Look for news releases and financials, including SEC filings. An important annual filing is the Form 10-K; it provides information on the company's operations and financial performance.  Tip:  Download the most recent Form 10-K and review the Business section.

You will find a public company's financials in multiple resources, including the Investors section of the company's website. For your assignment, a good option for finding financials would be the Mergent Online database linked below.

Tips for using Mergent Online

  1. Identify the company's fiscal year end and make sure you are reviewing recent annual financials.
  2. The Mergent Online database will help you easily compare a company's financials (including ratios) with competitors' financials.   
  3. Mergent Online includes financials for public companies; if a competitor is a private company, it will not be listed in the Mergent Online database.  Choose a public competitor for comparison purposes.
  4. Mergent Online has a limit of five simultaneous users.  If you get a message that "all logins are in use," wait a few minutes and try again.
  5. If you have never used Mergent Online, you should first complete the brief tutorial linked below.


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