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COB 300 - Integrative Business

This guide helps students research their business plan proposals. Be advised this is NOT a comprehensive checklist for all topics that should be researched.

Evaluating a business idea

These resources show you how to find an idea or decide as a group which idea is most promising. 

Consumer trends from the experts

The top market research firms often publish reports that predict what consumers will want. Your team could use these predictions to think about how to put a new spin on an existing product or to meet an emerging need.

Examples of new products launched since 2020

Companies highlight new products regularly in trade journals like Progressive GrocerFurniture Today, or Automotive News. You can browse these articles in JMU databases like Business Source Complete and Factiva.

Prove your concept

You need to prove that there is a market for your idea. One of the key steps to validating your concept is evaluating your market size - units sold per year, competitors in the industry, etc. These resources can help you validate your concept.

Recommended resources


Need tips for using a database properly? JMU Libraries has created slidedecks to show you how the steps for using and citing JMU's key business databases, like IBISWorld & Statista.

Find competitors

Google is a great place to start.Try using Google's "related" search operator, i.e.,, which gives you a list of websites that are competitors to outdoor apparel company REI. 

Remember that competitors can be direct or indirect. Direct competitors sell the same product as your firm. Indirect competitors may sell a different product, but are targeting the same customer. HubSpot explains these terms

JMU Libraries database Data Axle Reference Solutions returns a list of competitors operating in a geographic area (U.S. only: City, State, Zip code). It's most effective if you search by industry using a NAICS code.


Recommended resources

Identify your NAICS code

An industry is a group of businesses that produce and/or sell the same, or similar, goods or services (Ruediger & Olsen, 2013). 

The U.S. government uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to collect data about economic activity in different industries.

NAICS codes are critical for finding financial benchmarks to forecast your new business' sales, revenue, expenditures, etc. 


Recommended resources

Choose a city/state/country to locate

When choosing where to locate, think about the available workforce, economic development incentives, and the demographics and location of your customers. 


Recommended resources (location selection)

Recommended resources (search for commercial real estate listings)