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MGT 365: New Venture Creation: Getting Started


In this guide you'll find some of our most-used resources for creating a business plan. For most business plans, you need to locate information about the industry, competitors, and customers.

Keep in mind that gathering information about an industry can be very different each time you do it. Sometimes, you may be researching a large industry, with many companies who are publicly-owned, like the auto, airline, and retail industry. In this case, you'll probably find a lot of information that you'll need to sift through. Other times, when researching small industries with just a few companies or companies that are mostly privately-owned (such as the wooden toy industry or bagged ice industry) you may need to try all of these sources to put together a picture of what's going on in the industry and how it operates.

Business Plan Examples

Business Plans Handbook (MCOB Reference HD62.7.B865 v, 1-28) is an excellent resource to review actual sample plans for just about any business one would be interested.  Check the index in the back of the last volume to find out the volume for a specific business plan. 

The most recent volumes of this series are available electronically here: Business Plans Handbook

The Small Business Administration website at  also gives a good example of what information to include in a business plan.

Start with the Government

I usually recommend when doing industry research that you start by finding out what classification number the U.S. Government has assigned to that industry. They collect a lot of data about industries and make it available for free to everyone.


  • North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS)  
    This is the classification system used by the U.S. Government. Use the Search box on the left to enter in a keyword or two about your industry to find out how they classify it. You will get anywhere from a two-digit (very general) to a six-digit (very specific) classification number. Write this number down. You can use it to search other government sites and business databases to find info on your industry!
  • U.S. Economic Census    
    Taken every 5 years, the Economic Census tries to count all the businesses in the U.S. and gather other data about them so we get a sense of how our economy changes. It includes info such as total revenues for an industry, employment, geographic distribution of companies in an industry, etc.

Director, MCOB Business Library

Amia Baker's picture
Amia Baker
MCOB Library
University of South Alabama
5811 USA Drive South, Room 240H MLRC
Mobile, AL 36688
(251) 460-7998