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ENTR 3P98: Family Business

A guide to researching your famous family business project. Find articles in Family Business Review, find biographical sources on your famous family, company info sources, APA style help.

Primary Sources of Company Information

Business People IconWhat are Primary Sources?

Primary sources in the context of company research refer to sources & content created by the company such as annual reports and press releases. Most companies will have a web presence, but keep in mind that many will have both a "public" web site and a "private" web site (e.g. a password-protected intranet or internal site) so you may or may not be able to find out much this way.

What kinds of documents are you after? You want to answer the 5Ws (who, what, where, when, why).

  • Start with the section that says "Our Company" or "About Us".
    • Look for a description of the company's vision, mission, and values.
    • Look for a history of the company, which may include a timeline of key events.
    • Look for an organizational chart or list of key officers/executives, which may include brief biographical sketches.
  • Look for a link that says "News" or "For the Media".
    • Look for press releases or official statements (e.g. written documents, audio recordings, podcasts, webcasts, or transcribed speeches, or corporate videos).
    • Note: corporate videos may be also archived on YouTube or another type of site.
  • You may need to use the company web site's Site Map to find some of this information, which is typically linked at the header or footer of the home page.

How to Find Annual Reports for Public Companies

Annual reports, quarterly reports, and other securities filings for public companies (e.g. management information circulars) are usually posted on a company's web site in an area labeled "Investor Relations". However, companies usually only archive the most recent few years of their reports.  If you require access to older annual reports or financial statement data, you should consult one of the following sources:

Research the Industry & Find Major Competitors

Use Company research databases to compare your famous family business to major competitors in the industry.  Company profiles usually include: 

  • the company location and contact information, names and titles of key executives and directors;
  • a brief description of the business including key products and / or services, number of employees, 
  • the primary and secondary industries that it operates in (listed by SIC or NAICS code) and major competitors;
  • key financial ratios, financial statement data (e.g., sales revenue), stock price history, and stock ownership details.

For additional guidance in identifying top competitors, consult recent company profiles from well-known sources such as GlobalData, Hoover's, and MarketLine. 

Publication Title Database
Hoover's Company Records
  • ProQuest One Business
GlobalData Company Profiles - Financial and Strategic SWOT Analysis Review
  • ProQuest One Business
MarketLine Company Profiles
  • Business Source Complete
  • Mergent Online


Library Databases

For Additional Sources:

If you still need more company or industry information for your research report, consult the additional sources on this research guide:

How To Find Ownership Data

  • Ownership data for most Canadian or US public companies is readily available.
    • Ownership data is reported in the Management Information Circular (Canadian) or the Proxy Statement / Information Circular (US) documents.
    • Mergent Online reports ownership data for US listed companies.
  • Ownership data for companies listed outside of Canada or the US may be found in Factiva (look in the Company Snapshot) or in S&P Capital IQ (look in the Investors section under Public Ownership). Each source lists ownership by institutions and individuals/insiders.
  • Most publicly-traded companies maintain investor relations sections on their corporate websites with copies of recent annual reports and other securities filings, stock quotes, press releases and other relevant information for investors.

Library Databases:

Other Online Resources: