American Business Leaders of the 20th Century...

Harvard_Business_Leaders  brought to you courtesy of Harvard.  We tip our hats to them for making a free and searchable database with hundreds of prominent business people from last century.  As they (Harvard that is) state,  this was, "an effort to identify and chronicle the lives of 20th century men and women whose business leadership shaped the ways that people live, work, and interact." Well it's a great effort, and the result is a good-looking and straightforward browsable list/advanced search interface, wherein you can narrow by basic demographic factors like gender, birthplace, and education.  (It's not unlike playing the Guess Who? boardgame, am I right?!)  Individual-level results also include a small blurb about their business success.  Oh and even better, if you ask nicely, they can apparently send you data in an Excel Spreadsheet.

Retro Ads from Ad*Access by Duke University Libraries

AdAccess Database

Whether they prompt you to scratch your head and ask "They said what to sell that?!," or incite your inner-vintage-monster to go on yet another Mad Men bender, the high quality scans of advertisements in Ad*Access are worth a look back in time.  Chock full of thousands of printed ad spanning the early-mid 1900's, this database's five primary categories are Beauty & Hygiene, Radio, TV, Transporation, and WWII. Because I can't state it any better, here's what the About page says:  "Ad*Access is a pilot project to make a selection of historical advertisements available for study and research. The project draws on part of a large collection of magazine and newspaper ads within the Duke library's J. Walter Thompson Company Archives." (I especially recommend reading the Preservation paragraph if you want a bit of perspective on how Duke's archivists managed these materials.)

Simply put, this is a major tool for those doing advertising or marketing research through an historical lens.  And this database, an end-product with hundreds of hours of work behind it, is free for anyone to use.  Sold!

You'll find more free advertising resources here.

In the Emerald Multimedia Zone

Emerald Header

For those who are not familiar with Emerald, it refers to both a prized variety of beryl as well as the name of a major publishing group in the realm of academia.  And with any "major" company, we really like when they dole out free swag, because, well, it's usually good swag.  While Emerald tragically is not giving away their mineral namesakes, we can't complain about their Multimedia Zone. It deserves a (green perhaps?) thumbs-up for being seeded with some kernels of business insight in the form of short videos and podcasts for anyone's viewing and listening pleasure.  First dig into the Talking Management video channel, which per Emerald, "features insightful interviews with leading business figures and management writers." Then if you still haven't gotten enough, try burrowing into the Podcasts page, where you can listen in or view the transcripts- they read not unlike news articles- to uncover new insights across a range of business topics.

Three Key Business Plan Resources

Business Plan Graphic

People often conduct business research with the intent of using it to inform a business plan.  So where should you visit on the interwebs to find a good business plan how-to? 1.  The United States Small Business Administration has a thorough guide that walks you lists the major component of within a business plan, and if you need to bounce your plan off a sounding board, they can help you find a mentor too.

2.  In terms of sheer volume, offers hundreds of free sample business plans across most industry categories, making the odds reasonably good that you will find a comparable plan to give you inspiration.  Unfortunately their sample charts and financials are largely for show, unless you actually shell out money for plan-writing software that holds your hand througout the process.

3.  The Center for Business Planning has a selection of winner plans from the prestigious Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly the Moot Corp Competition) which is hosted by none other than UT Austin.  While the companies are not necessarily real, the time and effort invested by the student compeitors certainly are, making this twenty-some-odd series of plans worth reading.

Note: As you're perusing the plans' intro page, it may not be readily apparent that links to the rest of the plan are available through the small blue Table of Contents box at the bottom of the page (see pic).

The Financial Times Lexicon


Building on this earlier post about Investopedia's great function as a business dictionary and beyond, another excellent resource for terminology is the Financial Times Lexicon.  Like Investopedia FT also offers some other nice bells and whistles besides a dictionary alone.  Select a term, e.g. "intellectual capital," and beneath the defintion you'll find a link to search the website for articles that feature the word or phrase.  You can also save you favorite buzzwords and see their evolution in a Watchlist which you can access by registering for FT's free-level subscription. And best of all, some enterprising employee-who-knows-java made a widget for anyone who wants to embed the FT Lexicon on their business education type website, and they even included tips for customizing it via CSS or HTML.  Thank you, FT!

Research Basics: NAICS


There’s nothing like an impending election to make our government look bad, but on occasion they get things right, like data production.  Point in case the NAICS Code, which stands for North American Industry Classification Scheme.  In business research NAICS Codes are a handy-dandy tool for 1) isolating industry news/reports, and 2) creating company lists based on, as the title implies, how a business is classified. You can include the NAICS Code as piece of limiting criteria in some of our favorite databases like Business Source Complete, and ReferenceUSA.  In the first screenshot shown below, the NAICS option comes up in a dropdown list in BSC. 

Also because NAICS falls under the umbrella of all-things-Census, you’ll also see it featured on the Industry Statistics Sampler website.  Just choose your code of interest to see downloadable report offerings for how that industry is faring.

How do you get your hands on the code you need?  Visit the NAICS homepage and use the search box above the “2007 NAICS Search” button to enter a word, e.g. “sunglasses,” and you’ll receive a list of codes related to your term.  The image on the right shows the extent to which you can drill down using the NAICS website.  Click on a code to see even more information about how it's used to make sure you’re on the right track.

One important note is that some databases and business tools might still reference SIC (Standard Industry Classification) Codes, which were last updated in 1987, and which NAICS replaced in 1997 (FAQ).  For the fine points of difference between SIC and NAICS, visit its History page.  On the off-chance you need to translate between these codes, visit the Concordances page.

Investopedia - Financial Education


I use Investopedia regularly when I'm looking for definitions and formulas. They do an excellent job of explaining financial concepts in simple, understandable terms. But, Investopedia is more than just a dictionary. They are the experts in online financial education. The site offers news, calculators, and even a fantasy stock simulator. Their broad selection of tutorials covers everything from the basics of stock picking, and choosing between retirement plans, to real estate investment information like a condo-buying walk through.  Now you can even find Investopedia videos on YouTube. Here's a perfect example of how they can explain a confusing concept like Beta in just two minutes. Amazing combination of education and entertainment. That is hard to beat!

All The Money In The World...

Screen shot 2011-11-25 at 1.02.45 AM

...has been visually distributed in one awesomely massive chart, courtesy of Randall Munroe's profoundly entertaining & enlightening web comic XKCD.  (That's your cue to bookmark it.) He says on the poster, "Nearly every amount has a cited source- when possible, a scholarly work or government publication," and- in a move that captures our librarian hearts- he offers a link to download the impressively long list of references here.

P.S.  This is not a poster for perusing on your smartphone.

P.P.S.  We hope you had a Thanksgiving holiday as happy and fullfeeling as ours!

Business Videos- Part One


On a large scale, we have generally mentioned YouTube in scads of posts throughout this blog, and on a small scale we have promoted the UT Business Librarian Channel and its tutorials on finding focused information in specific databases. Today, this post covers some of the metaphorical gooey middle of general business instructional videos that can be found by browsing in YouTube.  How do you find them?

  • Select the Browse button next to the search box.
  • Choose Education from the navigation bar that loads beneath the Browse button.
  • Choose Business from the subsequently loaded Category dropdown menu.
  • Filter by different topics that live under the Business umbrella, including things like Finance, Innovation, and Supply Chain Management.

Whether you’re looking for a refresher on Finance 301 or insights on emergent markets, you’re bound to find a useful video.  After all, staying informed of business principles and abreast of business practices is the best way to ensure a solid foundation for conducting high caliber business research.  Below are a few good videos to consider watching.

Stanford: China New Media & E-Commerce Investment Outlook

University of New South Wales: Online Trading: Creating Efficiency with Double-sided Markets

Duke University: Introduction to Energy Entrepreneurship

Stay tuned!  Next week I’ll profile another excellent compendium of business videos.

NCES - Education Statistics


The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), analyzes and provides data on education. NCES is run by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. There are more education stats here than you can imagine. You can find school district demographics, drop-out rates, early education, adult literacy, school locators, and even international education comparisons. There are published reports or you can create custom tables. Some examples of stats available:

  • Medium income for High School grads is $25,000 and for Bachelor's degree or higher it's $45,000
  • 1.5 million kids were home schooled in 2007
  • The most popular major is business with 335,000 degrees conferred
  • Educational systems that outperformed the US in 4th grade science were Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, and Singapore
  • 57% of children ages 3 to 5 and not yet enrolled in kindergarten were enrolled in a center-based program

NCES Custom Table