At the end of July I was in mid Wales running a workshop on business information. There was a good mix of experience and backgrounds amongst the participants and plenty of time for people to try out ‘stuff’ and share tips with each other. At the end of the day they came up with a list of their top 10 business search tips. Actually it was 11 – the additional one was my own web site, which I used as a starting point for many of the examples. You could say they were virtually brainwashed into including it so I am giving them that one as a ‘free’ extra! Here is the full list.
1. Marketingfile http://www.marketingfile.com/ Collection of business to business and consumer mailing lists. Free to search and reasonably priced pay as you go purchase options. Buy as many or as few records as you need or as dictated by your budget.
2. Directionlessgov http://www.directionlessgov.com/ Having problems finding information on UK government web sites or on DirectGov? Then get thee hence to this Google custom search engine from the people behind They Work for You (http://www.theyworkforyou.com/), What do they know – make and browse Freedom of Information Requests (http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/) and FixMyStreet (http://www.fixmystreet.com/)
“We got so fed up with the general uselessness of the multi-million pound shambles otherwise known as the Direct.gov.uk portal, that we decided to build something better in under an hour. Sadly, we ran catastrophically behind schedule, but we still finished before lunch.
Google results are shown on the right hand side of your results screen and you can compare them with the DirectGov results on the left hand side of the screen. There seems to be intermittent problems at the moment when clicking on the Directionlessgov search results; you are sometimes taken to the Directionlessgov home page instead of the page in the results. Nevertheless, still worth using as the results are far superior and you do at least have the details of the web site and document.
3. Companies House http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/ The official companies register for the UK. There is a free companies and disqualified directors search available under the Webcheck Service. At the time of writing the link was in the middle of the right hand part of the home page. You can search the database for free and free company information includes name, registered company number, registered address, status, date of incorporation, nature of business, date of accounts, previous names. Documents can be purchased on a pay per view basis.
4. Kompass http://www.kompass.com/ Worldwide directory of products. Search by keywords, company, products, classification codes. Basic search is free of charge. In order to use the advanced search and view full company profiles you will have to purchase a subscription or ‘credit units’. The minimum number of 50 credit units costs EUR120 or USD 170
5. StatsWales http://statswales.wales.gov.uk/ Forget about the ONS – if you need data and statistics on Wales this is the place to go. “StatsWales is a free-to-use service that allows visitors to view, manipulate, create and download tables from the most detailed official data on Wales.” Email alerts and RSS feeds are available.
6. Business support, information and advice | Flexible Support for Business Wales http://fs4b.wales.gov.uk/ Everything you need to know about setting up and running a business in Wales.
7. D&B UK small business centre for business reports and company financial performance tracking http://www.do-business.net/sbc/. Provides reports on over 3.3 million UK companies. Report content varies depending on whether you need a customer, competitor, supplier or a partner report. Prices start at GBP 7.50 and there are sample reports to give you an idea of what each includes. The supplier report, for example, gives star ratings for overall condition of the business and how it compares with other business in the same industry sector, size of the business, names of the directors, significant legal proceedings/events such as County Court Judgements.
8. FITA http://www.fita.org/ Founded in 1984, FITA “fosters international trade by strengthening the role of local, regional, and national associations throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada”. In addition to services for members, there is a very useful collection of Web resources for International trade. There are over 8000 annotated links. Categories include country or region, legal resources, doing business in another country, International market research and business directories. The business directories are subdivided into industry specific, global and country directories. The links are in the menu on the left hand side of the screen.
9. UK Trade and Investment http://www.ukti.gov.uk/ “UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) works with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets, and encourage the best overseas companies to look to the UK as their global partner of choice.” There is information on industry sectors and business opportunities in other countries as well as help for new and experienced exporters.
10 LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/ Useful professional networking site for biographical information on people (if they are members) and for identifying contacts within companies.
And the eleventh is Business Information on the Internet (Compiled by Karen Blakeman) http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/, business resources organised by type e.g. statistics, market research, company registers.