Yahoo Finance http://finance.yahoo.com/ – this site is good for investment business and financial resource. True for publicly traded stocks and bonds, but Yahoo Finance runs deeper than that, providing information on both public and private companies. The site’s focus is decidedly US-centric, but Yahoo Finance is also a rich resource for looking into international corporate, business and financial research.
Edgar http://searchwww.sec.gov/EDGARFSClient/jsp/EDGAR_MainAccess.jsp – The SEC developed its Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval system to facilitate electronic access to company filings — annual reports (10K), quarterly reports (10Q), proxy announcements (14A), registrations, notifications, ownership reports, initial public offerings, and any of the other zillion or so forms collected by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Alibaba http://www.alibaba.com/ – If you’re looking to buy or sell toys, electronics, clothes, chemicals, machinery, or pretty much anything else that’s part of international commerce, Alibaba is the best place to get started.
Bureau van Dijk’s Mint – http://mintportal.bvdep.com/version-20111013/portal.serv?product=mintportal If you need to do some quick research on chemical companies in Cambodia, financial firms in Finland, or the insurance industry in India — and if you want this all for free — then BvDEP’s Mint Database is the place to turn. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Select a country or region of the world (or even a grouping like the G8, OECD, or European Union) from the pull-down menu, pick an industry sector — metals, machinery, construction, hotels, etc — and…Click…there’s your list.
Google News – http://news.google.com/ articles covering thousands of newspapers, blogs, magazines and other print and electronic sources. Nor is it only the latest news that’s available. Google News includes an archive search that can take you back through history by accessing the news stories of the past few hundred years.
Accoona – http://www.accoona.com/ gives you free access to some of Dun and Bradstreet’s data on executives, sales employees, etc, and that alone makes it a tremendously useful for tool for business and company research. (When you visit Accoona, make sure to click on “Business” for your search). There’s not a lot to say here, really. Just enter a company name, and with a bit of luck, you’ll get not only a name, address and phone number, but some of that free Dun and Bradstreet data.
ThomasNet – http://www.thomasnet.com/ Thomas Register industrial directories, is the place to turn when you want to find a manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of industrial goods in the US or Canada. This is a true B2B site, designed to link up industrial buyers and sellers. There are more than 650,000 companies listed with ThomasNet, and tens of thousands of product categories to choose from.
State Corporation Filings – http://www.coordinatedlegal.com/SecretaryOfState.html When a business incorporates, it files its incorporation papers with a state government (often Delaware or Nevada, though all state’s provide this service). These files become part of the public record. Similarly, companies involved with a secured loan, or a lien on property, also creates an electronic “paper trail” that is part of the public record. Most states handle these sorts of filings under what is know as the Uniform Commercial Code or more familiarly, UCC. But I’ll just call them “public records” for simplicity’s sake. Companies like Lexis-Nexis can provide access to public records, for a substantial fee, of course. But why not go right to the source? A Google search on a state of your choice, along with “Corporations” will usually pull up a link in the top results to the public records page for that state. Or you can bookmark one of several lists of links to Secretaries of State websites, where you can access UCC, liens, corporation filings, and other public records.
Better Business Bureau – http://www.bbb.org/us/ To get an idea of a company’s reputation, pay a visit to the Better Business Bureau and click on the button to Check Out a Business or Charity. BBB has a pretty deep database. Their listings of company and business names, and charities, covers the US and Canada. Better yet, it includes not only BBB member companies, but seemingly millions of other businesses small and large, that come to the BBB’s attention. And best of all, of course…it’s online, easy to access, and free.
Federal Contractor Searching – https://www.bpn.gov/CCRSearch/Search.aspx the last entry on our 2008 list was a tough call, but we finally went with the Central Contractor Registration system of the US federal government. CCR lists untold number of businesses that actually contract with the federal government, or who hope to become federal contractors. Either way, this is a rich list. It’s also infuriatingly dense. Using it effectively means becoming familiar with NAICS codes, government and military procurement lingo, federal acquisition notices, etc. But hey, that’s the government for you. Fortunately, the CCR search page provides some helpful links. It may also pay to get a bit familiar with the information and resources on the CCR homepage as well.