Understand Your Industry, Making Data Work for You

Have you considered starting your own business? Or perhaps you have an existing business and you are thinking of investing money in order to increase foot traffic and brand awareness. Analyzing your industry can help you understand your competition, growth patterns and risks. Before spending money, it’s prudent to do your homework.

Industry research questions can be split up into manageable pieces to capture the information for a business plan, or to fine tune strategy for an existing business. Answers to certain basic questions about the competitive environment are important during the scoping phase:

  • Is there a need for this product or service?
  • What is the problem you are attempting to solve?
  • What are the risks and challenges associated with providing the product or service?
  • Who is my competition? Who is my target consumer?

These questions can be answered by examining the industry’s history, size, trends, and outlook. The analysis can help you target customers, buyers, and competitors. It can also help you to identify successful business strategies and regulatory challenges which can affect the operation of your business.

The following resources can aid in answering these questions:

  • Industry Profiles,  Surveys and Ratios
  • Market Research Reports & S.W.O.T Analyses
  • Trade Associations Publications and White Papers
  • Contact information for existing companies

Business Databases available through Dallas Public Library

  • Standard & Poor’s NetAdvantage and Hoovers Online include Industry Surveys and Industry Profiles. The focus tends to be on larger industry segments. This database includes a listing of key executives.
  • Business Source Complete (EBSCO) includes Industry Profiles, access to trade publications, SWOT Analyses, and Market Research reports. Some 1,200 peer-reviewed journals are indexed. Most of these—including flagship publications like The Harvard Business Review—are available in full text. Use this resource to look for current news about specific companies.
  • Enhanced Business Search Interface (EBSCO) offers a quick and more structured way to find country economic data, company profiles, industry information and market research. It can be used to search a variety of the EBSCO family of databases, including Business Source Complete.
  • Mergent Intellect is a business intelligence database containing 245 million public and private business records, industry news and profiles. The advanced search interface can filter by woman or minority owned businesses, SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) Codes, industry segment, net income, size, etc.        

When choosing a database resource, ask yourself why the details are beneficial for each target audience. For example, the coverage in trade publications such as Restaurant Business and Retail will be more granular and target specific members of a profession or trade.

Most of our business databases can be accessed remotely with a Dallas Public Library card.

For a broader overview of business research, check out the research guide prepared by the Business Reference and Services Section of the American Libraries Association. In future blogs, we will focus on utilizing other database tools that the library makes available to the public in order to do demographic analysis of business service locations.

The Dallas B.R.A.I.N. can assist you in your research needs. If you would like further assistance please be sure to reach out to us via email at [email protected] or by phone at 214-670-3441. We are physically located on the Business & Technology floor (5th) of the Central Library in downtown Dallas.