1. Review the client website and materials provided by the client, but don't stop there. You need to understand the bigger picture of their industry, competitors, etc. as well as the company.
2. Find the NAICS (industry) code by looking up the industry by keyword at http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ and/or looking up the company in ReferenceUSA. There may be several NAICS and SIC codes listed in ReferenceUSA, with the primary code starred.
3. See if there is a report for the primary industry in IBISWorld. NOTE: IBISWorld uses 5-digit rather than 6-digit NAICS codes. IBISWorld is searchable by NAICS, keyword, or company name.
4. Note the date of the IBISWorld report. While very thorough, if the report is more than a month old or does not have a coronavirus update, it will need to be updated through other sources.
5. IBISWorld reports often list trade associations in the Additional Resources section. These can be a great source of information, especially if your client is a member of these or other organizations. Find out which trade associations your client belongs to and check their websites for resources that are often in a section for members only.
6. Use Mergent Online and Reference USA and the Company Dossier listmaking feature in NexisUni to identify competitors. ReferenceUSA has a handy mapping feature. The Dayton Business Journal includes the Book of Lists; see if there is a list for your client's industry.
7. You are unlikely to be able to find financials for the small, private companies likely to be your client's competitors. Use BizMiner to find benchmark financials for your client's industry. Use Business Source Complete and NexisUni in addition to web searching to find articles about competitors that may include some financial info.
8. Keep track of where you find information and cite it in your report, so your client knows where it came from in case they want to see it for themself.