Step 1: Determine if the company is a public company, private company or a subsidiary of a parent company. A public company sells ownership shares that trade on one or more of the stock exchanges in the U.S. and are regulated by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). Public companies must file their company's operations and financial information with the SEC regularly. A private company is not required to report any information and as a result, information on private companies can be hard to find.
Step 2: Identify the industry classification code(s) assigned to the company's line of business(es). With these codes, one can more easily identify competitors (companies) in the same industry.