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Small Business & Entrepreneurship: Industry Research

Identifying the Industry

Industries are classified into one or more classification systems. The two main classification systems are SIC and NAICS. Many business databases allow you to search by these codes, so it can be very helpful if you know how to find them. 

Companies will be assigned more than one industry code if they are operating in more than one line of business. 

Related Guides

IBISWorld - Try this first!

IBISWorld is our most comprehensive source of industry level data.  You can search for industry information by classification code, industry description or company name. 

It also includes "Business Environment Reports" that offer short summaries of data and analysis on over 250 economic drivers, categorized in seven “environments” that surround the economy.

GSU subscribes to both the US and China modules.


  • This database offers Industry Surveys of 56 industries. Each survey provides information about the current industry environment, industry trends, key industry ratios and statistics, how to analyze a company, a glossary of terms and a comparative company financial analysis. Find the industry surveys on the Industries tab on the top of the page.
  • This database also has Sub-Industry Reviews, which provide commentary on 115+ sub-industries. These can be found on the Industries tab. 


Key Business Article Databases

Look for articles on your industry in some of our key business article databases.

Research Tip

The amount of information that's available on any given industry will vary depending on the age and size of the industry, among other factors.

If you can't find information on your industry consider the following strategies:

  • Try looking for a broader industry category. Sofware publishing instead of smartphone apps, for example.
  • Look for information on related, or similar industries.
  • Find out who the main companies are in your industry and base your analysis on that information.
  • Combine information from multiple industries. This can be particularly helpful for younger, emerging industries such as e-book publishing.