Outfoxing the competition begins with detective work

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By The Staff

By Betsy Gillette, director of market research and planning, Technology Ventures Corporation

Intelligence gathering isn’t just for international spies and private detectives. It’s also a way to identify one’s business rivals and compile information about them in order to gain a competitive advantage.

In many cases, the information is easy and inexpensive to obtain. Competitors can be found in industry directories, many of which list members online. Articles and advertisements in trade journals offer competitors’ names, as do conversations with business owners in the same industry or even their customers. A public or specialized library can be a source of names beyond what’s available through industry directories on the Internet.

The business researcher can start with some of these resources:

10-K reports: The 10-K report is a publicly traded company’s annual performance report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Found at www.sec.gov or on any publicly traded company’s Web site, these reports include information about a company’s financial statements, organizational structure, equity, market risks and pending litigation. A researcher might even discover a rival’s market shares and future plans.

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