Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Get the competitive edge

Thinking about starting a business or just wondering who your competition is? Use the library's ReferenceUSA database to locate detailed information on competitors or similar businesses using the Custom Search in the U.S. Businesses module. You can watch the video below, to see how this works, or perform the following steps:

  1. Log in to the ReferenceUSA database using your 10-digit library barcode;

  2. Select the U.S. Businesses database;

  3. Click on the Custom Search tab (it will be defaulted to Quick Search);

  4. Click on Business Type;

  5. Click on Major Industry Group;

  6. Select an industry group that is similar to your business (or your interest). If you click the plus sign icons to the left of each listing, the industry group (or subgroup) will expand to allow you to drill down to a specific type of business. For example, if I wanted to open a coffee shop in Warrenton, I'd click on Retail Trade, then Eating & Drinking Places and then Eating Places and then check Coffee Shops (581228);

  7. To see what coffee shops are located in Warrenton (my competition), I'd then click on Geography (in left hand menu) and then select Radius (you could instead go by zip, county, etc., but I like the radius feature);

  8. In the Radius input area, I can then enter an address or zip and also the number of miles near that zip or radius. In my case, I put in the 20186 zip and chose a 2 mile radius;

  9. Click the View Results button;

  10. Since all I came up with was Starbucks, I decided to revise my search a bit to include some local bakeries that serve coffee (and are thus my competitors). What I had to do was click on Revise Search and then ADD Deli-Bakery (581229), which was also under Retail Trade > Eating & Drinking Places > Eating Places, as well as click on Retail Trade > Food Stores > Retail Bakeries (5461). I then clicked the View Results button and came up with not only the ubiquitous Starbucks locations, but also local retailers like Great Harvest Bread, Red Truck Bakery and Cafe Torino.
  11. Once you have your list of competitors, you can then view more detailed information such as their business demographics, corporate structure, etc.

Watch the video below for more information. Or, if you need help with this database (or any of the databases Fauquier County Library subscribes to), ask a librarian for assistance - get your questions answered by e-mail or call the Adult Reference Desk at (540) 422-8500 ext. 6862.

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