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Getting Started with Industry Reports: How to Use First Research

One of the most important elements of any successful business plan is the Industry Analysis section (read more about business plans here). This is where you will demonstrate to the loan officer at the bank or an interested investor that you understand the trends and projections in the wider industry landscape, and how your business will fit into it. Is your industry growing? What are overall trends that you can incorporate to boost your business’ success?

Banks and investors will want to know about your goals and overall mission, but a marketing strategy and demonstrated passion for the work is not going to be enough to convince them. You will need to be able to provide hard data that supports the idea that your business is poised to achieve. You’re going to need numbers. Banks and investors love numbers! You can find these numbers in an Industry Report. If you’ve tried looking them up on the web, you’ve realized by now that these reports can cost thousands of dollars each. This can be a barrier to creating a business plan that will land you that loan.

Luckily, the library offers access to Industry Reports at no cost through our First Research database. It offers industry information that includes those statistics, projections, analyses, and trends that are essential to building your Industry Analysis. This resource is updated monthly, so you know your information will be timely and thorough.

You can get started here. Click on the bold “First Research” heading. You’ll be prompted to enter your CLP library card number and four-digit PIN, so have those handy. Click through when you’re prompted; you’ll have to click “Continue” twice before you’re taken to another confirmation page. Once you’re there, select the “Submit” button under the “Access First Research” heading. The progression looks like this:

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…third time’s a charm!

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Here’s what the home page looks like:

Once you’re in, enter your industry keyword into the search bar and click Search. If you know your industry code, you can also use that. If you don’t know it, don’t worry; the results from your keyword search will include the code. You will be presented with a list of results that match your search term. Notice that there are a number of other reports listed as well.

Below, I searched for the keyword “bookstore.” In addition to the bookstore Industry Report, you can see that the results include other, related industries including “Libraries & Archives”, “Coffee Shops”, “Music Stores”, and so on. Select the report that matches or is closest to your industry.

A typical Industry Report looks like this:
Screen shot of an industry report

There’s a lot of information here. Note those industry codes (NAICS and SIC) are listed right under the main heading. You can see a table of contents on the left side of the screen, and some summary information on the right.

Feel free to peruse this information to better educate yourself about your industry, but pay special attention to the “Industry Overview” portion of the report. This is where you will find the hard numbers you’ll need to convince that investor or loan officer. This data includes growth projections, annual revenues, marketing information, and even international industry trends, should your entrepreneurial spirit be ambitious.

This is an essential step in creating a plan that will be successful. If you would like assistance navigating this resource, we’re here to help! Please feel free to schedule an hour-long 1:1 session with our experienced Business Librarians to learn more about this and our other resources for small businesses. You can call 412.622.3114, email, or use the chat widget on our website to schedule an appointment.

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