Private Company Research Tips

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Can I do private company research myself?

Do It Yourself is Not Efficient in This Case

You can try to do private company research yourself, but unless you have serious research skills and connections, it's not going to be an efficient method of private company research. Privately held companies are not required by law to answer your questions or give out any sensitive financial data. Looking for private company research? It's much more efficient to pay a business information specialist like, which charges by the download with prices as low as $9.95 per company search.

Is there such a thing as free private company research?

No Such Thing as Free Private Company Research

Looking for free private company research? Private companies are required to file with the secretary of state in the state where the company is incorporated. And you can pick up information from newspaper articles, Lexis-Nexis or other information services, available at a library, for example. And most business information providers offer some free sample company information about every business profiled. But if you want real private company research from a leading publisher of business information, you will need to pay. With, at least you don't have to pay much. Per-download prices start at $9.95 per month and top out at about $129, with no membership costs or other hidden fees.

Why can get information on private companies?

How Does Do It?

If it's so difficult to successfully do private company research, how does do its prviate company research so successfully? subscribes to four of the leading publishers of business information -- Icon, Dun & Bradstreet, Datamonitor and Snapdata. These companies have large and experienced editorial and investigative staffs that are acknowledged experts in private company research. It's like paying for the services of four specialized business consultants at the same time.

Is it more difficult to do research on a private company?

Private Company Research: Difficult, But Not Impossible

It is more difficult to do research on a private company since private companies are not required to make public financial filings with the SEC. But it's not impossible. The easiest way to get your hands on private company research is to sign up for a business information service that specializes in private company research. These services have their own editorial and investigative staff to gain financial and business information about private companies. You can then pay the service for its own private company research, either by the month or by the specific download.

How can I get business profiles of privately held companies

Getting Information From Private Companies

Private company research is a lot more difficult than researching a public company. Public companies -- those that issue common stock -- are required by the US government to release finanical reports and other information on a regular basis. Private companies are under no such requirement. So unless you have extraordinary research skills and connections, you're going to need the help of a business information specialist to do private company research. offers information from four of the leading publishers of business information -- Dun & Bradstreet, Icon, Snapdata and Datamonitor -- giving access to profiles of millions of privately held businesses. Doing private company research, do a company search at and chances are you'll find what you need.

What about forums and newsgroups

Newsgroups, Forums and Chat Transcripts

Internet forums and newsgroups, even chat room transcripts, can all be helpful when doing private company research. Look around and find sites devoted to watching the companies you are interested in and then lurk for a while to see what's being said. You can also check Google Groups for older discussions. Like everything else, this is easier for public companies. But it's still a workable method for obtaining private company research on non-public businesses, too.

What can I do if don't have the money for a membership with a provider?

Low on Cash? Purchase by the Download

If you're doing private company research and don't have the money for a monthly membership with a business information provider, like Lexis-Nexis or Hoover's, search around for a provider that will sell business information by the download. You can buy reports direct from Dun & Bradstreet or one its resellers. Many resellers will also show you a sample company report first via PDF, to make sure you understand before buying what kind of information you will be getting. You can get similar by-the-download information from which charges hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a report. Industry-specific sites, like Forrester or Jupiter in the Internet/Tech sector, also make reports available by the download.
Not sure what to expect from a full company analysis report, or not sure if it's worth the cash? A company like will sell sample company reports from D&B and other information providers one at a time with fees starting at $9.95 for a list of business contacts, to $129.95 for a comprehensive D&B report.

What if I don't have any money to spend on private company research?

No Money for Private Company Research? Get Creative

If you can't afford to buy private company research, even one report at a time, you will need to get a little creative in your research. Remember, private companies are not required to file with the SEC and make public quarterly or annual reports. So a lot of traditional free research methods will be cut off. But creative thinkers can still find ways to get what they need. Here's one idea: Check the company's web site and try to figure out what government regulatory agencies -- federal, state or local -- might have jurisdiction over the business. Then check those agencies for regulatory reports or filings to/from the business you are researching. Regulatory reports can be very informative.

How can I get private company research if I don't have much money?

Purchase by the Download

You don't always have to pay expensive monthly or annual membership fees to obtain private company research from a business information specialist -- although it might not turn out to be so expensive in the long run if you use the membership daily. But for most of us, purchasing business intellgience as needed is going to be a better deal., for example, does not require any membership fees for access to its private company research. charges as low as $9.95 for a business contact list and only $129.95 for a comprehensive company profile. So with, you're only paying for what you actually use.

Who has the most private company information?

Millions and Millions of Private Company Profiles

Remember that only about 10 percent of US businesses are publicly traded companies, the rest are privately held. So if you're looking for business intelligence, you're likely going to end up doing a lot of private company research. You will need to use a provider who has access to the most business profiles, especially of privately held companies. With access to four leading publishers of business information -- Dun & Bradstreet, Icon, Datamonitor and Snapdata -- has millions of company profiles available. Most of these profiles are of privately held companies. While others may claim more business profiles, it's hard to beat the collection available online at Try a company search and see for yourself.

What about the Secretary of State?

Check the Secretary of State

Check the Secretary of State's office for information on every company incorporated in the state. Even private companies have to file with the Secretary of State. Your private company research should pick up something from these filings. The requirements differ from state to state, but generally include articles of incorporation or charter, company officers, HQ address and phone. It's not as good as what you would get from the SEC on a public company, but every little bit helps.

What happens when a private company decides to go public?

Initial Public Offerings: Good and Bad News

If you're researching a private company that is in the process of going public, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that once a company is public, it needs to follow SEC rules and begin reporting its financial information, which will be publicly available in the SEC's EDGAR database. Also, companies in the process of going public are required to release a business prospectus, which can contain valuable financial information that otherwise might not be released. The bad news is that while the company is in the process of going public, it has to go through a "quiet period" where it is not allowed to release any information at all. So if you want more private company research than is available in the prospectus, you'll need to either purchase your information from a private company research specialist, resort to some creative research methods yourself, or wait for the IPO.

What are some other ways to do free private company research?

Other Creative Methods of Private Company Research

Here are some other suggestions for low-cost/no-cost private company research: * Search Lexis-Nexis or another business wire for information on your private company. Use search terms where the company's name is repeated throughout the news item. Add the word competitor for even more useful information. * Check out job sites like, Careerbuilder or even the company's own careers pages. This can tell you whether the business is hiring, what jobs they need to fill, and even the salary range.

Is private company research accurate?

Is Private Company Research Accuarate?

If privately held companies do not have to give up any detailed financial information, how do you know the information you get from a business information specialist is accurate? Good question. There is no way to prove that private company research is accurate unless the company officials actually confirm it for you. But the leading publishers of business information rely heavily on selling private comapny research for their own business success. If their private company research isn't consistently accurate, no one's going to buy it for very long. subscribes to four different publishers -- Dun & Bradstreet, Icon, Datamonitor and Snapdata. This means you can compare and contrast private company research from different providers. If the information is consistent across the different information providers, chances are it is probably accurate.

Which information providers have the best private company profiles?

Where to Find Private Business Research

When it comes to business information and private company research, it's hard to beat Dun & Bradstreet, which claims to have profiles and information on 16 million companies, most of which are private businesses. You can buy D&B reports direct, from a D&B subsidiary like Hoover's, or a private reseller like Each company offers different sales options and plans, so you can get access to D&B private company research, if you need it.

How hard is it to find the private company I want to research?

Easy Company Searches

It's one thing to find a good business information provider for private company research. It's another to try and find that company's information once you choose a provider. Remember, all commercial business information providers are not created equal, and some providers will have more information available than others. With information from four leading publishers of business information, makes it very easy to do a company search online. Search by name, industry, location or business information publisher, making it easy to find the company you want to research.

Why do I need private company research?

The Importance of Private Company Research

Less than 10 percent of US businesses are publicly traded companies. That means the rest are privately held. So chances are that your business is privately held as are those of your competitors. So whether you are doing competitive analysis, looking for sales leads, or trying to figure out the next step for your business, private company research is going to figure into your plans. That's why it's important to use a professional information specialist like, which has profiles of millions of private companies available online. Do a company search on's web site and see for yourself.

Can I trust private company research from commercial information providers?

Will The Private Company Research Be Accurate?

Commercial business information providers who specialize in private company research offer information that cannot be found through public filings and other relatively easy information sources. But can their information be trusted as accurate and up to date? Generally, yes. These providers, especially the best-known ones, specialize in private company research. If the information isn't useful and current, their own business models suffer. But private company research can be expensive. It's still worth it to shop around for the best provider. Check to see if the information provider offers sample company reports, too.
Private companies are not always required to list their profiles and earnings reports, like public companies. If you're looking for private company research reports, a business solutions provider like Manta can help.

Are bloggers worthwhile sources of private company research?

Check Out Business Bloggers

If there are bloggers covering the private company you are researching, they can be very useful to help with your private company research. Bloggers can cover subjects in great detail and often attract motivated audiences to build strong communities of interest around the subject. If that subject is a private company, the blogger and members of the blogger's virtual community can provide some big help with your private company research. It's not 100 percent accurate, but at the same time it's a great source for early news. If there's a blogger covering your business or industry, check in and gauge the blogger's usefulness to your private company research.

Does anyone offer samples before paying?

Sample Before Buying

If you are considering purchasing private company research from any commercial business information provider, you need to make sure the provider offers samples of the information you are thinking of purchasing for you to examine before you actually pull out your credit card., for example, offers full sample company reports on PDFs for any of the half-dozen tiers of intformation it offers on any of the millions of companies in its database. also offers a synopsis of the information available on each company for free on its web site Do a company search and see for yourself.

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Jerry Mayo