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Commerce Subject Guide: Small Business & Entrepreneurship

A guide to key databases, reference & web sources, and research & citation guides for Commerce.

Recommended Websites -- Small Business & Entrepreneurship

On this page:

Business Planning and Startup Sites

Sources for Business Plan Market Research (Industry & Consumer Analysis, Economic Trends, etc.)

Government Sources
Article/News Sources
Commercial Analyst Reports
Industry Associations
Company Information
Product Information
Demographic & Social Statistics
Economic Statistics

Recommended Websites -- Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Business Planning and Startup Sites:

  • Atlantic Opportunities Agency (ACOA)
    - Information for entrepreneurs under "Forms and Tools" includes "Planning for Success: Your Guide to Preparing a Business and Marketing Plan". Also has factsheets and research studies on business and the economy in the Atlantic region.
  • BDC, Business Development Bank of Canada.
    - Set up to support small and medium-sized businesses, the website includes information on planning, financing, marketing, exporting, etc.
  • Businesses & Industry, (Government of Canada)
    - An important webpage that brings together many government resources for small business, like BizPaL for licences and permits, Financial Performance Data benchmarking tool, financing links, patent database, market research, industry sector statistics, labour trends data, etc.

  • Pollution Prevention Resource Finder (Government of Canada)
    - Links businesses and organizations to information and guidance on how to prevent and reduce pollution.

  • SME Climate Hub. A global initiative with many partners, including Oxford University, to help small and medium-sized businesses reduce their carbon emissions. The site includes many tools and resources.
  • SME Research & Statistics, by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada)
    - Links to publications: "Key Small Business Statistics" and "Venture Capital Monitor", and to several
    statistical tables and reports on small and medium-sized businesses.

  • Corporate Social Responsibility Toolkit. From Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
    - The "CSR Toolkit" provides guidance on why and how to integrate sustainability-oriented practices into business operations including governance, decision-making, human resources, purchasing and marketing.

Sources for Business Plan Market Research (Industry Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Consumer Analysis, Economic Trends, etc.)

Industry Analysis:

Government Sources:

Information by Industrial Category. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
- Information available varies; includes some industry profiles.

Canadian Industry Statistics (CIS). Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
- Provides information on the number and size of “establishments” by industry (NAICS).

Financial Performance Data. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
- Aggregated industry-specific income statement and balance sheet data for small and medium-sized businesses, showing the profitability of different types of businesses. (Formerly SME Benchmarking Tool)

Statistics Canada. The official source for most Canadian business statistics. The site also has many analytical publications available that expand on industry data. Search the site by keyword, browse by subject, or search for data tables, (formerly CANSIM). Data tables can be manipulated to select specific variables, frequencies and geographies.

NOTE:  Many other government departments and organizations also provide statistics (e.g. CMHC, housing, CIHI, health information, etc.)

You can search across all federal government websites using the search engine at, or use the site limiter in Google: "your keywords" (and/or*

*Information from most federal government department ( websites was transferred to after 2013.

United States Census Bureau The Population and Housing Census is conducted every 10 years; over 100 other surveys of households and businesses every one to five years. The U.S. Government official web portal.


Article/News Sources:

Recommended business and news article databases (access from A-Z List of Databases):

ProQuest(All): Includes ABI/INFORM Global, CBCA (Canadian Business and Current Affairs), Canadian Newsstream, etc. Several business and Canadian news databases can be searched together.

ABI/INFORM Global: Includes hundreds of academic business and economics journals and other types of publications with global coverage. Special search feature: “limit by classification code” for broad categories of topics and types of information. (In the Advanced search screen under “More Search Options” select : “Look up classification codes” to see the options available.)

Business Source Complete: Includes hundreds of academic, trade, professional, and other business journals and publications. Indexes many industry reports not easily available, and full-text Marketline Company Profiles. (Select “Company Profile” tab at the top. Profiles are about 30 pages long and include a SWOT analysis, revenue analysis, regulations, list of major competitors, etc.) BSC can be searched together with other EBSCO databases, e.g. Environment Complete, SocINDEX, etc..

Nexis Uni: Includes many kinds of global business and news sources as well as several specialized business reference sources.

Search tips:  Search for the industry (e.g. “pharmaceutical industry”). Sort by date. Read general articles, and narrow down, as needed, with keywords or subject terms for articles on specific aspects or factors needed for your analysis (e.g. canada, growth, trends, forecast, outlook, etc.) Each of these databases can be searched by NAICS code as well.

NOTE: Other databases specific to the subject-matter of your product, service, or industry will need to be searched as well. (e.g. Environment Complete for articles on environmental technology, etc.) See A-Z List of Databases. Select list by Subject.


Commercial Analyst Reports:

For the most part, when references to these are found by searching article databases or the Internet, the full reports will not be available for free. Nexis Uni (A-Z List of Databases) includes a large component of business reference sources, including some industry reports:

Nexis Uni:

  1. Click on "Menu" at the top
  2. Select  the Category: “Company & Financial”
  3. Select “Analyst Reports”
  4. Select source(s) to search
  5. Add search term in top search box

Industry Associations:

Most large industry associations provide statistics and reports about their industry on their websites, in trade journals, business news sources, submissions to government, etc. Article/news searches will alert you to some of these, or search the Associations Canada directory at the Research Help Desk to choose the major association(s) for your industry and go to their websites. (To search the directory online select “CIRC” in the A-Z List of Databases; check off Associations Canada or search across all relevant directories. Search by keyword, or select "Subject Search", and pick from the drop-down list.)

You can limit a Google search for your industry to to limit the information found to Canadian sites. (e.g. “aquaculture industry”


Company Information:

Besides providing information about the operations of a particular company, use company profiles, financial and operating information of major companies within an industry, as indicators of  some of the aspects of the competitive environment and factors affecting the industry.

Nexis Uni “Company Dossier” allows you to compare companies in an industry:

  1. Click on "Menu" at the top, then "Business"
  2. Under “Company Dossier” select "Find a Company" or "Create a Company List"
  3. Enter the NAICS or SIC code for your industry then download detailed reports for each company (includes industry analyses)

Company Annual Reports - All publicly traded companies in Canada are required to publish an annual report of their operations. These include not only financial details, but also insights into the business conditions and operating environment of the industry. Some parts to look at: Letter to Shareholders (introduction by CEO) can include a summary of industry trends/conditions/issues faced by the company, and “Management discussion and analysis” section can include hints of the company’s strategy for dealing with these and other operational issues. Latest reports available on company websites, or search SEDAR.

A searchable database of public company filings (annual reports, etc.) to Securities Regulatory Agencies in Canada. You can limit a search to Industry Group, and type of document, e.g. “Management Discussion & Analysis”.

(For U.S. public companies, search EDGAR for the equivalent Form 10-K. The “Business Overview Section” requires a description of the nature of competition in the industry.)

Some private company information is found in Nexis Uni directories. The main source of information on private companies is usually the press:  newspapers, journals and magazines. Search the ProQuest news and business databases, Business Source Complete and Nexis Uni.


Product Information:

Demographic and Social Statistics:

  • Statistics Canada is the major source for demographic information. The Census is the largest “survey”, but many others are done regularly or intermittently. The Census Profile, 2016 Census site allows searching to the Census Tract level for Census information. Note: In 2011 the National Household Survey included details normally found in the Census: e.g. on labour, education, income, etc. Other surveys of interest for consumer research cover household spending, Internet use, etc.
  • United States Census Bureau The U.S. Population and Housing Census is conducted every 10 years; over 100 other surveys of households and businesses are also conducted every one to five years.
  • Public Opinion Surveys and polls conducted by marketing firms and others are available on some of these firms' websites, or will be summarized in brief articles and reported in various news sources. Some of the major companies are listed in Marketing Hits -- Consumer Analysis.


Economic Statistics:

  • Statistics Canada:The Daily
    - Provides latest daily statistics and analyses released by Statistics Canada covering demographic, social and economic topics. Feature articles include excerpts from publications as they are released. Searchable archive of past issues and links to data.

  • TD Bank Economic Reports
    - The Toronto Dominion Bank provides current and archived issues of their weekly and quarterly economic reports, commentary on economic issues, federal and provincial government finances, quarterly economic forecast, commodity price report, and automotive report.


See also: Marketing Hits for more Canadian market research tools, and the Commerce Subject Guide, Reference Sources, etc.