Over the last 2 months we ran a poll asking where our users consider their go-to source for business info to be - not surprising, over 80% selected either the internet or their local library.
Quickly breaking down the results and explaining the value in each option for business info:
Chamber of Commerce - Although COC received no votes, your local COC should not be overlooked, particularly as a source of informal information obtained through networking and attending COC events. Depending on the size of your COC, there may or may not be a lot of printed or online information available for your research. A larger city, such as the City of Surrey (SBOT) will usually produce a lot of great content, including newsletters, online toolkits or local event listings.
Newspapers received only a 3% share of the vote. In the age of instant information available online and through 24 hour news television, this is not a shock. Still, reading the local business news is a nice way to stay informed of the regional or national business scene. More than likely, however, a share of the votes given to the internet are actually devoted to online newspapers rather than their print counterparts.
Government sources fared a little better, collecting 7% of the votes. If you're looking for the authoritative stance on an issue, particularly regarding regulations or business policy, you should consult government sources. Associations, likewise are often a treasure trove of industry information that can help guide your business research. The material published by trade groups or industry associations is generally referred to as 'Gray Literature' and can often be more meaningful than mass-produced publications for a wide audience.
The library collected a third of all votes. For any print resource, the library is your best option - particularly when you're researching on a budget. Libraries also provide access to important electronic resources such as the Gale Business Plan Handbook, Business Source Complete, and numerous other business databases. Best of all? They're staffed by knowledgeable librarians more than happy to give you a hand with your business info needs!
Lastly, the overwhelming leader in this poll was (no surprise here) the INTERNET. Certainly, a few of the other sources such as government, COC or newspapers may all be lumped together under the umbrella of the net, but let's be honest....taking to the net is a great first step in finding business information. By visiting the SBA today you yourself might be on the lookout for business information. While it's true that the internet is a great starting point, it's not always the best end point. Think of online resources as a gateway to identifying your needs, but be willing to step outside the comforts of the internet to complete your research. The best of both worlds!
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo Internet Paso a Paso created by Espacio CAMON, on April 7, 2011. Photo made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Last viewed on December 14, 2011.