Researching Your Business PlanFree Library of Philadelphia Part I: Introduction to business plans and market analysis research
In This Series You Will Learn… The elements of a business plan How to use the Free Library’s resources to find sample business plans, and how to find the information you need to create a successful plan of your own… Research your competitors Find and target your demographic audience Follow the most recent trends in your industry Determine average finances for a business in your industry How the library and other local small business organizations can help you develop your business
In Tonight’s Class You Will Learn… The elements of a business plan What the library can and cannot do for you How to access the Free Library’s databases from outside of the library How to find sample business plans in the Gale Virtual Reference Library How to begin your market analysis research by locating competitors using ReferenceUSA
What Is a Business Plan? "A business plan is a roadmap for the organization, showing the destination it seeks, the path it will follow to get there, and the supplies and wherewithal required to complete the journey." - Rebecca Jones, Information Outlook
Why Have a Business Plan? Your business plan is an essential document. For you, the entrepreneur, it will serve as a day-to-day operating manual for your business and as a mission statement of your goals. You will also need a business plan for… Potential partners and investors Banks, the Small Business Administration (SBA), loan officers and other sources of funding
Elements of a Business Plan Each business plan is unique, and the best ones are tailored specifically to the goals of the entrepreneur who wrote it. However, most business plans share several elements in common. Your handout lists the following sections… Introductory Narrative Description of Business and Business Structure Details Specific to Your Business (optional) Market Analysis Financial Plan
Learn By Example Reading sample business plans is a great way to learn what potential investors and loan officers will expect to see in your plan. Refer to your handout “Accessing Electronic Resources From Home” as we demonstrate how to locate sample business plans in the Gale Virtual Reference Library…
How The Library Can Help You will notice that only two sections of the business plan require library research, the Market Analysis and Financial Plan. We can help with these sections. As for the rest of the plan, while we can show you resources and examples that may help, most of your information will come from your own knowledge of your industry, your ingenuity, and discussions with your loan officer. The rest of this series will help you learn to research those two important parts of the plan: Market Analysis and the Financial Plan.
What The Library Cannot Do While the librarians at the Free Library of Philadelphia attempt to provide you with the best resources to research your plan, we are not experienced entrepreneurs or business counselors. As a result, we cannot: Write your business plan for you Evaluate the quality of your plan or your business ideas Help you secure funding or fill out paperwork for funding, loans, grants, etc. We are all about the research. The hard work - as well as the many successes - of entrepreneurship are yours alone.
Getting Started In Market Research In a business plan, there are typically three main categories of Market Research Your Competitors (other businesses) Your Demographic (potential customers) Your Industry (the big picture, trends, forecasts, etc.) Tonight we will focus on how to find Competitors.
Finding Competitors The main resource for conducting competitor research is the ReferenceUSA database. This is accessed through the Databases page of the Free Library’s website. We’ll take a look at the “Custom Search” function in ReferenceUSA now. There are other sources, particularly the D&B Million Dollar Database. However, for most small business researchers ReferenceUSA is a better choice because it covers more companies as well as more smaller companies. Speak to a librarian after class to learn more about these other resources.
Two Ways To Search The “Custom Search” function in ReferenceUSA offers several ways to define your market and find your competitors. Two of the most useful are Geography and Business Type.
Defining Your Market Geographically Where Are Your Competitors? If you are opening a restaurant, for example, your competitors will likely be other restaurants in the immediate area (zip code) of your business. While a specialty retail store, for example, may want to look for others business selling similar products across the city or metro area. Other types of business may need to consider an even larger area (manufacturing, wholesalers, etc.) You can search for businesses in ReferenceUSA by zip code, city, state, or metropolitan area.
Defining Your Industry WhoAre Your Competitors? When you define your industry you are deciding with whom you are competing. If you are opening a pizza parlor, are you competing with only other local pizza parlors, with all other local takeout places, or with all the restaurants in your area? You can define this search by using a Keyword or SIC/NAISC (industry) code. If you don’t know your SIC/NAICS codes, don’t worry, ReferenceUSA’s keyword search will help you find it.
Results Once you have a list of competitors you are happy with you can download it as an Excel file which can then be saved to a floppy disk or flash drive and/or printed out.
Search We’ll spend the rest of our time tonight using ReferenceUSA and answering your questions. Next week we will look at how to find demographic information. In the meantime, use the resources we covered tonight and please contact us with your questions.
Contact Us Free Library of Philadelphia Business, Science & Industry Department 215-686-5394 firstname.lastname@example.org Join us on Free Library of Philadelphia - Entrepreneur & Business Group