Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Business Research

This week I was asked to look up the top employers for this area and describe how they are faring. Business reference is not my forte, so this was a great opportunity to use some reference tools I don't use often. Here's what I did:

Reference USA
I am so fortunate to have access to this great database! I've picked at it before to see what it could do, but it's a whole different experience to use a database when you are after something specific. I was able to use the custom search feature to narrow my search geographically, as well as by number of employees and sales volume. They give a range of numbers to choose from, so I chose the top three ranges. With the search results, I created a marked list of companies I considered to be "in this area" (my definition was set by what cities were included in the results.) I downloaded the list of about ten or so companies to Excel, where I could sort by any category (city, sales volume, number of employees).

Hoovers has a nice list of top companies by sales, as well as a list they call "top employers" that is listed geographically. There was a nice list of companies for Plymouth, MI. It was a different list than I got through Reference USA, which is interesting. Every company on the list has an address in Plymouth, though, whereas the Reference USA list only had two in Plymouth and the others were in the surrounding area (Ann Arbor, Livonia, etc.).

The "how are they faring" part of the question was a lot more difficult. Many of the companies listed are privately owned and operated. Their annual reports and financial statements are not readily available. Those on the list that are publicly traded were easy to get a quick chart of their stock prices for the last five years, one year, or less. A few of the private companies have been in the local news, so there were a very few snippets there that hinted at booming business or trouble in paradise.

What a great exercise. I'm glad I got this practice this week!

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