These are some databases with which to start conducting company research. This page also has tips for doing this kind of investigation, and some tutorials.
Mergent Intellect is a database with global company information.
ReferenceUSA is ideal for conducting company research on a local U.S. level.
Orbis is recommended if you are trying to find financials for private companies incorporated in Europe.
Use PrivCo for U.S. private company research.
Be sure to use databases like ABI/Inform Collection or Business Source Complete, located under the "Articles" tab of this guide, to find out if anything has been written about these companies in magazines, trade periodicals, or newspapers.
When doing company research one should determine whether a company is public, privately held, or a subsidiary. Mergent Intellect can help you determine this. If you are doing research on a local level where there are many small businesses, use a database like ReferenceUSA to determine this.
If you have identified a company as a subsidiary, find its parent. Then use the databases in the "Identify Type of Company" section to determine whether the parent company is public, private, or a subsidiary.
You will not be able to find detailed financials for the majority of subsidiary or private companies (unless the subsidiary happens to be trading separately from the parent). However, if the parent is publicly-traded, sometimes they might include a little bit of financial information for the subsidiary.
PrivCo provides financial data for over 850,000 privately-held companies. In addition, a database like ReferenceUSA will provide estimated sales figures for these types of U.S. companies. Use Orbis if your private company is incorporated in the United Kingdom.
Most companies also have websites, so you should comb through them for information.
Use databases like ABI/Inform Collection and Nexis Uni and others listed in the "Databases for Articles" tab of this guide to find out if anything has been written about these companies in magazines, trade periodicals, or newspapers.
These sources will help you identify competitors. They will also help you determine whether the competitor is public, private, or a subsidiary.
ReferenceUSA is a strong source for identifying competitors on a local level as well as helping you to determine the type of company.