Each participant in the class should have three handouts: Your Business Plan, Accessing Electronic Resources from Home, and The Business Plan Series: Part I.
The next 3-4 slides reference the handout entitled Your Business Plan
Demonstrate how to locate Gale Virtual Reference Library and show the class how to find and search the Business Plans Handbook. In the interest of time, do not have the class do this with you.
Show the class how to locate and open ReferenceUSA on the FLP website. Briefly note the basic search and move to the custom search page.
Business Plan Toolkit, Part 1 of 3
FREE 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
How the library can help you develop your business
In Tonight’s Class You Will
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
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
Your handout lists the following sections…
Description of Business and Business Structure
Details Specific to Your Business (optional)
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
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,
Write your business plan for you
Evaluate the quality of your plan or your business
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
Getting Started In Market
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.
One of the main resources 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.
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
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
Who Are 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
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.
We’ll spend the rest of our time tonight
using ReferenceUSA and answering
Next week we will look at how to find
In the meantime, use the resources we
covered tonight and please contact us
with your questions.
Slide presentations and handouts from
this series of courses are available
Free Library of Philadelphia
Business, Science & Industry