Customers can be individual consumers, another business or the government. The key question is: who will use or benefit from the invention? By determining who the target customer is, then you can take the first steps towards understanding who and where they are. Knowing why they would buy your product or service and knowing who your competition is for those customers will help develop your marketing plan.
Deciding who your customer is determines how you will proceed with your research:
The library's business databases are generally organized by the type of information they contain: company research, articles or reports about customers & competitors. Exceptions are two which give you company one-stop shopping by bringing together different kinds of information:
These are other information sources for finding private or small company information. Often smaller or start-ups who may be competitors to your idea are not well covered in the larger library databases. At times, the only source is local newspapers and business magazines that cover local businesses.