Starting up a business or becoming self-employed has its fair share of risk. Having control over what you do and with whom is just one benefit which usually outweighs these risks, but it still makes sense to protect your interests. Researching other companies, whether they are potential clients or business-to-business suppliers is just as important as knowing your market and beating the competition.
If you’re looking for a good tool to research companies in your marketplace, browse company information online at Duedil, which is a company financial database that’s free for anyone to use. All you need to do is sign up for an account by entering a few details.
Particularly if you run a small business, prospective clients or partners will be sure to check your credentials before entering into any agreements, so it’s a good idea to do the same in return. It’s vital that you know other businesses have a good track record to get an idea of how reliable a venture with them may prove. So any information on company stock, accounts and even legal cases is invaluable, and may be easier to find than you imagine.
A quick first step is to check if the company has a stock symbol, sometimes known as a ‘ticker’ symbol in the US. Usually only public companies will have this so if it’s a privately-funded business or subsidiary you will probably need to look elsewhere. But for basic information on a public company’s finances and any news about their dealings, this is a good place to start.
Another simple check is to find out where a business is based and scan local newspaper and periodical archives for not only recent news but an idea of their public profile over time. Using tools that aggregate this information can make it quicker and easier to do this job.
Social media is becoming more and more prevalent in marketing, so it’s often worth seeing how well a business utilises this, whether they’re engaging with their client base, as well as finding out what people really think of them through networking sites and news forums. LinkedIn is a great tool for this, but Facebook and Twitter and plenty of others have active company profiles as well.
To dig a little deeper, websites like Companies House in the UK and the SEC database in the US can help with more specific information. Companies House uses WebCheck, an online tool by which you can search for any limited company in Britain – at present over 2 million – by name or registration number. Here you can pull details of past reports and company history, and use the monitoring service to keep up-to-date with any news on the business in question, or any additions to their files.
When venturing into business with another party, their reputation is a key consideration. Check out sites like the government’s own Business Link, which contains advice on this subject as well as marketing resources and industry news for businesses at every stage of development.