You'll want to identify existing businesses that would be your direct competitors. If your target market is other businesses, you will want to use these information sources to locate businesses that might be your customers.
Industry reports include some information about companies that are major players in the market, as well analysis of the competitive environment.
You may also want to identify complementary businesses. These are businesses that do not offer the same services as you, but may be useful to your target market. (source)
Data Axle Reference Solutions is your best first stop for identifying competitors and complementary businesses. It's available with public library or UNC library access. Click here or scroll down to learn more.
"Freemium" means that information is free if you create an account.
This annual survey from the U.S. Census Bureau reports the number of a given type of business in a county by ZIP code and metropolitan and micropolitan statistical area.
Check out the directories for your area's Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau. FInd these website by searching the web for "[your location] chamber of commerce" or "[your location] better business bureau."
In some industries, locally produced products have a competitive edge in the market (e.g. craft food and beverage products) (source). Local publications will have news articles that mention specific companies and events, advertisements, and other related information. Examples in the Triangle region of NC: WRAL Business news page, INDY Week, Triangle Business Journal (editions for 40 cities/regions, limited free content.).
Data Axle Reference Solutions is a great first stop for building a list of competitors and a list of complementary businesses. Data Axle provides detailed directory information for millions of U.S. businesses and households. Search in this database to find other businesses in your industry. (public library access, UNC library access).
Here's how to find businesses in Data Axle using the Advanced Search. This example searches by industry and geography. You will create a list of businesses in a given industry that operate in a geographic location. Watch the video and follow the instructions to try a search.
Watch the video to view a sample search or follow the instructions below to learn.
You can download your results list, but there is a limit on the number of records that can be downloaded.
Database will produce an exportable chart. Click on any one result to view information about any particular business. You can export all files into a chart. They contain information about sales and industry average expenditures.
The industry reports you found earlier usually included lists of major companies operating in your industry. That's a good start for understanding your potential competitors, but you also will probably want to build your own list of competitors and complementary businesses.
You must have an active ONYEN and password to access these databases.