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Business Plans

Resources for preparing and writing a business plan

Finding Company Information

The first thing you want to determine when researching a company is whether it's private or public, since this determines how much company information is publicly available, as well as the type of resources you'll want to search. 

Public Companies: 

"A public company is a company with securities (equity and debt) owned and traded by the general public through the public capital markets. Shares of a public company are openly traded and widely distributed. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), any company with more than $10 million in assets and 500 shareholders of record is required to register with the SEC, and is subject to its reporting standards and regulations.  In a public company, the ownership is shared between the shareholders, including the board, management and public shareholders."

The databases below are recommended for public company research. Many of them are also very useful for private company research.

Private Companies:

"A private company is different from a public company in that its stock is not traded on public exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, American Stock Exchange, etc. Instead, shares of private companies are offered, owned and traded privately among interested investors."

Researching private companies can be challenging; privately held companies do not have to disclose information to the SEC.  This guide provides information sources which tend to be the most useful.  In addition to the databases listed below, you may find useful information in the list of Public Company databases.

Nexis Uni has Mergers and Acquisitions info, along with the regular company reports. Click on "Company Info" on the left, and then "Mergers and Acquisitions" in the drop-down box on the right.

An initial public offering, or IPO, is the first sale of stock by a company to the public. A company can raise money by issuing either debt or equity. If the company has never issued equity to the public, it's known as an IPO. (Forbes Investopedia)


NetAdvantage- (library research database)  click the "Research" tab on top for investment news

Hoover's IPO Reports
Provides information about companies from the time they file registration through their first year as a public company.

Other (online) resouces to try- (Research Tip: try these keywords (in quotes) when searching for information on IPOs)

  • "initial public offering"
  • "going public"
  • "start ups"

Going Public  Mason Libraries E-Journal. Complete data on IPO companies in US from 1975 to 1998.

Investment Dealers Digest  Mason Libraries E-Journal. Weekly listing of IPOs in the US and The IPO 100, a performance review of the most recent 100 IPO companies. Online back to 1991.

Venture Capital (London)    Mason Libraries E-Journal. A listing of venture-backed IPOs, recent venture-backed IPOs aftermarket, and PVC Index (Post-Venture Capital Index).

Other resources:

IPO Expert  IPO companies, national & international, for the past 12 months, filings, calendar, aftermarket performance, information on secondary offerings.