Business Research 101

Walker Management Library

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Walker Management *Library
Walker Management Library
Owen Graduate School of Management
401 21st. Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203

Problem, Relevance, Solution


For a successful pitch or idea, you need to understand the problem, its relevance to the buyer and the solution offered. We all Google – but what’s unique about your pitch that goes beyond Google?

Where do you find facts that strengthen your case?  If you were a journalist, you’d knowhow to write a good article using the Five Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why).  These simple concepts can help you begin library research. Once you have this outline of what you need to know, then you can begin your research.

  • Who *cares* about this product or service?  Is it a trade association? Government? Key competitors?

  • What is the nature of your idea?  Does it compete with an existing product/service or replace one that already exists? What do you already know about it?

  • When will this be needed or used?  Is that important for you in promoting it?

  • Where will the person/company be – geography, phase of life, what other demographics matter?  What channel will you use to reach them?

  • Why does your idea have value? Why would someone buy it? What benefit does it offer the user?

Where Do You Start Searchng?

Research can be gathered or distributed in different ways.  It can be:

  • Primary Sources- gathered directly from the source; i.e. a survey or interview
  • Secondary Sources - gathers primary information and redistributes it; i.e. a report or article that quotes information from another source
  • Tertiary Sources - gathers information from primary and secondary sources; i.e. textbooks, encyclopedias

Why does the above matter? It can help you decide WHERE To look for information.  The BIG question is, where is the kind of information need likely to be provided and then how can I find it?

Information Sources


Information is generally distributed via channels that are either free (the Internet) or for-fee or by subscription (library type databases).  Think of for-fee information as being distributed and packaged in databases by type.

Free Information can be from Industry Thought Leaders, government or non-profits, companies and individuals.  They use the Internet to distribute their direct information.

  • Industry Thought Leaders often publish information to promote their business.  Well respected Thought Leaders respected are: PWC, Deloitte, E&Y, KPMG, McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting Group.

For-fee or subscription information (library databases):

  •   Wide range of information types: news & articles, analyst reports on companies & industries, customers; technologies and more.