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BCOM 214 - Fundamentals of Business Communication

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Will I need to research specific companies?

As you explore your industry, you will find mentions of specific companies - whether because they dominate the market cap, release an industry-changing product, or otherwise impact the story of that industry. It may become useful to dig deeper into some of these companies in order to gain more insights into the industry itself. 

If you determine that you need more details on a company than what you may find in an industry-specific resource, explore the company-specific research strategies and resources below.

Company Search Strategies

1. When researching a specific company, learn its full and official name. While knowing the common name (e.g., Sprouts, Boeing) can often suffice, some library databases are picky and require the official name (e.g., Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc., The Boeing Company) to return any results. Knowing its full name will also help you disambiguate search results to find the right company.

2. Learn if the company is publicly traded or privately held. Certain data are less prevalent on US private companies because, unlike public companies, they are not required to report their financials to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). Therefore, information from news articles, industry reports, and public competitors is extremely valuable in order to better flesh out a private company's position. 

3. If the company is public, learn its ticker symbol. Performing a simple search (in something like Google) with the company's name + stock ticker (e.g., Salesforce stock ticker) should bring it up immediately (e.g., Salesforce = CRM, Sprouts = SFM, Boeing = BA). The ticker will often be useful as a search term in business databases, whether in lieu of or in addition to the company's name. That said, most interdisciplinary databases (JSTOR, ProQuest, etc.) do NOT index ticker symbols and will not understand them. Become comfortable with trial and error and try multiple variations of your search terms.

4. Learn where the company is headquartered. Just as with the full name and ticker symbol, knowing the company's headquarters location will help you identify the right company when your search results in dozens or hundreds of similarly-named companies.

5. If the company is private, you may benefit from identifying a public "proxy company" of comparable size in the same industry. Use this proxy company (and possibly another) to help estimate details like financials that may be difficult if not impossible to uncover for the private company.

Company Research by Type of Resource

For more information on finding and analyzing financial statements (as well as reporting corporate finances), see the Financial Statements section of our Accounting research guide.