Business: Finding Company Information


in another browser window to work through this tutorial side by side.


in another browser window to work through this tutorial side by side.

This tutorial will walk you through the process of finding a company profile.

The left side of the screen will give you step-by-step instructions.

Read through page by page. Once you have completed the task in the right part of the screen, click the arrow at the bottom of the left side of the screen to move forward.

Company Profile

This tutorial will guide you in how to find company information.  Business directories include contact information, NAIC classification, sales, employee size and other particulars about a business.  This is a backbone to company and industry intelligence for business environment analysis, Porter's Five Forces or SWOT.


Where to find company information.

Businesses are either private, public, or they may be subsidiaries of a larger company. Non-profit, foundations  and educational organizations are other categories. You must know the type of company before you can make informed decisions about which business directory to use.
Refer to the  "Searching Company Information" diagram in your Cougar courses or this Company info Research Guide.



To get to ReferenceUSA from the library home page. Choose Databases: "by Subject or "by Title". Then navigate to ReferenceUSA.  (Off campus you will be prompted for campus credentials.)

Databases by subject by title

Take a Tour: How to find a business.

Note there are multiple databases to choose from: You want U.S. Businesses. Jobs / Internships and U.S. New Businesses may be useful supplements. 

We will use U.S Businesses:  Use Quick Search to enter a company name.  For example: Flippin Pizza in San Marcos. Tip: Always use the Expand All option on the far left column once the company record has appeared on the screen.

Expand all



Examine the expanded entry and look for company website, Industry Code NAIC and SIC, number of employees including names and contact for company executives, sales, etc. Tip: Watch out because the competitor’s report is geographic proximity only.

Review the Company tab on your library course guide for other sources such as LexisNexis Academic, Mergent, Hoovers in-depth.


ReferenceUSA Custom Search will find competitors, suppliers or even B2B customers.  Review the referenceUSA Take A Tour to see a video.

Return to Home in referenceUSA and U.S. Businesses again.

1. Choose Custom Search from the U.S. Businesses Database. Tip: Expand All to see your search options.

2.  Choose Business Type and enter an industry term in the dialog box in the middle of screen.  Tip: I like Keyword/SIC/NAICS or browse Major Industry Groups


Example: Herbs  
Tip: Note that there are wholesale, manufacturing, retail and other categories.
   Click the ones you want to select entries and they will be added to your selected industries.

3. Select a geographic area.  Tip: Consider the company's distribution area or competitor area. 

Optional limiters:  employees, sales, type of company
Tip: Look over the other limiters and think about ways a business would use, square footage, year established etc.

4. Run your search View Results

5. View the list of Companies and note the columns are sortable.

Corptree Explore the Corp. Tree in the far right column. Try various views by Sales or Employee size.


Select all companies , or select from the results and choose the Summary Tab.

ReferenceUSA summary tab

Make your choices in the prompts and View Results. Tip: Be fairly general to start, perhaps just Sales Volume.

Example: There are 42 Herb wholesalers in San Diego county < $500,000.  I can click that single entry to create a new summary report of just that segment.

ReferenceUSA charts tab

Charts: Use the interactive charts tool

Download: The license restriction is 200 Downloads or Prints per search for each company record.

Save your search and login to finish your work on another computer.

Alternate Sources for Industry Analysis

Library Guide for Company Search

Click the guide to explore other sources for company directory info.  Keep in mind that the free web is available but limited.  For example Manta uses ReferenceUSA data. The free Hoovers offers short profiles while the library version has the premium full report.  Consult a librarian if you still need help.


Review the Company Search Tab

Which database is recommended for private company information?



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