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If you've decided it's too much work to do the information retrieval yourself, even for United States companies that are publicly traded, you will need to decide which provider you're going to use to give you the information. There are hundreds of providers out there with information to sell. Here are some things to think about before making up your mind: * Consider how much you plan to use the business information service. There are basically two kinds of business models. Some charge monthly or yearly for unlimited access. Others charge by the download. If you will be using the service a lot -- more than a few times per month -- it's worth considering a monthly or annual plan. Otherwise, it's much cheaper to purchase by the download. * Remember there's so much information available to anyone about publicly traded United States companies that many commercial providers will offer basically the same information. So base some of your decision on factors like customer service and pricing, too. * If you're going to be looking for information on private companies, too, consider this before making a purchase: Whereas many information providers share the same information about public companies, it's much more difficult to get serious financial data from a private company. So it might be worthwhile to search out a provider with a big database of profiles on privately owned businesses.