Competitive Analysis

What is a Competitive Analysis?

A competitive analysis compares your company to others in your industry. It is a useful for determining your competitive advantage, and realistically assessing your company's limitations. The goal of a competitive analysis is to demonstrate how well you know the market, in order to convince your audience that your business will succeed over others. Be sure to provide statistical details, and cite your sources.

Step-By-Step Checklist

List all of your competitors.Explain what they do, where they do it, and how they do it. Think of your competitors broadly, including those that offer similar products or services, as well as substitutable products or services. It is critical that you research your direct and indirect competitors in detail. Create a spreadsheet and include sales, market share, pricing, profitability, debt, management effectiveness, technological development, productivity levels, growth capacity and marketing tactics.

 

Highlight what you can do that other businesses can't do.Describe your market niche.

 

Clarify your role in the market.How will your business fill a specific market niche?

 

Prove there is a market for your service or product.Make sure you show the size of your target market. This is where you show how well you have researched your market and presented the proof. Remember to cite all of your sources.

 

List your strengths and your achievements.Then list your weaknesses and explain how you will overcome these weaknesses.

 

Describe your company in detail, including history and present situation. Include information on business structure, ownership, and location of headquarters and branches. Explain the benefits of your location and your plans for the future. Outline all key players and what they do in your company.

Financial Databases:

EDGAR
Filings with the US Securities & Exchange Commission by companies listed on US exchanges. 10-K Formsinclude detailed information on company history, structure, financial statements, and other relevant data.

Financial Post Infomart
Offers corporate information and financial reports for Canada's leading 500 companies. Includes analytical tools to examine data for approximately 1400 Canadian companies. Use the Industry Reports or Companies by Industry databases. Check out this detailed guide to searching Infomart. Please note:Only some information is free. Check with your local library for complete access to this resource.

SEDAR
A collection of corporate filings that are required by securities regulators, from companies operating in Canada. This website is an excellent source for information about a company's plans, competitive environment, markets, products, and assets. SEDAR is the Canadian equivalent of EDGAR.

Financial Performance Data (formerly SME Benchmarking Tool)
Tool for benchmarking your financial reports with others in your sector. Website also includes a collection of financial data and annual reports of various Canadian companies. Start by searching your NAICS code. Click here for instructions on using the Financial Performance Data.

Directories:

Canadian Companies Capabilities
This Industry Canada database has over 60,000 Canadian businesses. You can search within specialized directories for aboriginal businesses, women-owned businesses or specific industries such as computer services or apparel. The business profiles contain comprehensive information on contacts, products, services, trade experience, and technology.

Frasers
A comprehensive industrial directory and search tool, with information on products and services provided by Canadian industrial wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors. You can search by product name, company name, or brand name.

Hoovers
Provides information on 18 million US and international companies, both public and private. Hoover's reports are generated quickly, and are easy to read. A fair amount of information is provided for free, but much more is available with a paid subscription. If you know the company name or ticker symbol of any of the key players in your industry, try searching for their Hoover records to find key information. Use the link above for free information or contact your local library to see if they provide access. Affiliates of UBC may have access

News Sources:

News articles can be great sources for understanding what your competitors are planning, what new products they are launching, and important information on how they structure their organization. A librarian can help you find relevant online news articles. Don't forget that you can also use media sources to research business and industry trends.

CanadaNewsWire
A free news database that is searchable by company name, keyword, or industry sector.

NewsLink
Links to local and international news source websites. Provides access to both current and archived news stories, which allows you to track trends over time.

YAHOO! Finance Canada
Excellent source for current Canadian business news. The website also features an extensive business news archive section.

Library Business Research Resources:

Business Resources at Public Libraries

If you need to find your local BC public library use this map created by The Commons, Libraries Branch, BC Ministry of Education. A public library card will allow you to borrow books and access research services, as well as give you access to certain library databases from home - or what librarians like to call "remote access". Consult your local public library website or visit a location in person to see what they have in their collection.

Business Resources at Academic Libraries 

Colleges and Universities with business programs will have useful business collections you may be able to get access to through their academic library. Often these academic libraries can provide the general public with access to their collections, which include electronic resources like databases and e-books. For example, they could have alumni or community cards, and can provide temporary "guest" passes in certain situations. Contact your local college or university library to see what they can provide. Please note: you probably will not get access to their electronic resources with remote access.

UBC Library Business Databases

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you may have access to business databases through the David Lam Management Research Library and Canaccord Learning Commons through the links below.

Full Listing By Title or Full Listing By Subject

There are two different ways to identify databases, use 'by title' if you already know the name. Otherwise, you can use the list 'by subject' to find starting places for doing market research, finding articles or researching companies. To learn more about how you can access library resources if you are a community user or temporary visitor check out the UBC Library Community Users & Visitors Guide. Community users and temporary visitors may have additional access restrictions to specific databases because of license agreements.

Discovering where you can access the information you need to complete your research can be tricky. Below, we have a few examples of potential sources that collect the type of information you will need.

  • Lexis Nexis Academic

  • Mergent Online

  • Business in Vancouver, Book of Lists

  • The Blue Book of Canadian Business

The databases listed under Library Business Research Resources on the Industry Analysis page may also be useful.

Other Sources:

  • Annual Reports
  • Trade Publications, Journals & Magazines
  • Associations (be sure to check membership directories)