Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “business background and tools”

Small Business Administration

Small Business Administration – http://www.sba.gov

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How do I write a business plan?
  • What are some common technologies used in small businesses?
  • What sorts of business structures are available to a small business?
  • What’s the difference between a partnership and a cooperative?


Information about running a small business. The site is divided into the following sections:

  • Starting and Managing (Business plan, types of business, etc)
  • Loans & Grants
  • Contracting
  • Learning Center (Online courses and videos)
  • Local Assistance
  • SBA Direct (search by topic)

This site will be most useful in creating details and challenges in stories featuring small business owners.


Researching Public Companies Through EDGAR: A Guide for Investors

Researching Public Companies Through EDGAR: A Guide for Investors – http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/edgarguide.htm

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What’s a CIK code?
  • Where can I find CEO pay?
  • What’s with all these different form types?


Background information for people wishing to use the EDGAR database of the Securities and Exchange Commission to research publicly traded company. Page is a mix of the capabilities of EDGAR along with links to basic information about the forms companies must file and where to find specific pieces of company information.

Parts of this guide likely to be of special interests to writers of corporate stories include:

  • Information About Publicly-Traded Companies
  • Executive Compensation
  • Insider Transactions
  • Business Combinations
  • Initial Public Offerings
  • Bankruptcy
  • Information About a Company’s Auditors

EDGAR Company Filing Search (SEC)

EDGAR Company Filing Search (SEC) – http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/companysearch.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How much did the CEO of AT&T make in 2011?
  • What business risks did Microsoft disclose about itself in 2013?
  • What publicly registered companies deal in toys and hobbies?


Free search of companies required to file statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Database may be searched by company name, stock (ticker) symbol, file number, state, country or Standard Industrial Code (SIC). The SIC code stands for the industry a company operates in and a link to the code list is provided.

Some companies have a lot of subsidieries, so you might need to poke around for awhile. Once you’ve selected your company of interest, you’ll have a list of documents. A company’s annual report is called a 10-K and has a good deal of information about a given company’s operations and risk environment. For information about other forms, see Researching Public Companies Through EDGAR: A Guide for Investors, discussed elsewhere.

This resource will be helpful in setting fictitious CEO compensation or choosing models for companies in stories set in the corporate world.

CPA Exam – State by State Reference Guide

CPA Exam – State by State Reference Guide – http://www.becker.com/accounting/cpaexamreview/state/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • In Alaska, how many hours of college accounting must one take before being allowed to take the CPA exam?
  • What coursework must one have in Colorado besides accounting to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam?
  • What are the current CPA exam fees in Mississippi?


A private firm’s links to all 50 state accountancy licensing boards. Each state record includes:

  • Education requirements
  • State CPA exam application process
  • Exam process links
  • State exam fees
  • State board contacts

You could also find a given state’s board for regulating accountants by searching [accountants board site:[your state name].gov]

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