Student Entrepreneur Challenge Research Help

This page will show you how to use Sno-Isle Libraries' resources for the Student Entrepreneur Challenge. The page numbers next to each topic follow the Student Workbook and the sample business plan accessible on the Island County Economic Development website. All of these resources are available on the Business & Finance page using your library card number and PIN. For more help using these resources, please contact Sno-Isle Libraries.

Make sure you cite all of your sources on the bibliography when you turn in your final project, as we will be looking to see how creatively you used our resources for the Sno-Isle Libraries prize!

Business Planning (page 5)

The Small Business Reference Center is a great resource for new business owners. Watch a video on how to use the resource here.

Tip: Do you need help coming up with a business idea? Log in to the Small Business Reference Center and click on the "Business Basics" link. Then click on the "Starting a Business With Less Than $1,000 - For Students." There is a chapter on "Businesses you can start for between $0 and $100."

Budgeting (page 6)

Refer back to the Small Business Reference Center’s “Business Basics” section – the chapters in “Starting a Business With Less Than $1,000 – For Students” also provide some helpful examples for identifying costs and revenues.

Finding an Investor (page 8)

Watch a video from Lynda.com on how to pitch to your potential investor. Use the keyword search inside Lynda.com to find the 13 minute "Giving Your Elevator Pitch" tutorial. Here's a video on how to use keyword searching to find a tutorial. You can also find more tutorials on giving presentations by logging into Lynda.com, hovering over the Library link near the top-left corner, hovering over Business, and then clicking on Presentations. 

Here’s a video on how to use keyword searching to find a tutorial. 

Choosing a Site (page 9)

Are you able to choose where your business will be located? If so, learn how to choose a location for your business in DemographicsNow and then explain your location choice in the company description section of your business plan. 

Advertising (page 10)

Remember the Small Business Reference Center mentioned above? You can also find more tips and examples on how to market your business by clicking on the “Business Basics” link. Lynda.com also offers a variety of videos on marketing and advertising, including special topics such as social media marketing.

Check out the section on “Targeting Individual Customers” with AtoZDatabases in the Market Research resources below to learn about how to advertise to specific audiences.

Market Research (page 11)

Your Company

Part of knowing the market is knowing how your business will fit into it and being able to explain your competitive advantages over similar businesses. You can use library resources such as DemographicsNow to identify your competitors first. Watch this video to learn how.

Definition of the Market

Does your market exist? Do people even want to buy what you're selling? To answer that question, you need to first start with answering the question, "What does my optimal customer look like?"

You should think of several demographic details around your optimal customer:

  • Age 
  • Gender 
  • Income level
  • Where they live/how far they're willing to go to get your product or service

You may not need to identify all of these components for each type of business. Say you want to open up a coin-operated laundromat. Watch this video to see how you can use DemographicsNow to identify your market size based on some of these details.

Targeting Individual Customers

Let's use a pet store as one example. You will need to identify who has pets within an area such as a city, zip code, county or other area.

AtoZdatabases is a great resource to identify who is a pet owner in a city. You can download lists of potential customers from this database to use as part of your market analysis or for marketing purposes. Watch this video to learn how to find your individual customers.

Business Analysis

In this section, you should analyze how your competitors and your physical location will impact how well your business does, as you are competing for a portion of the total market which is being served by other businesses. Watch this DemographicsNow video to see how to analyze your service or product-based business.

You can also check out ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry to find reports on specific industries and companies, and Business Source Premier provides company and industry profiles as well as SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats) analyses for a variety of companies. Understanding similar businesses will allow you the opportunity to identify your niche and what differentiates your business from other businesses in the same industry. 

Writing a Business Plan (page 12)

You can find actual business plans compiled by, and aimed at, entrepreneurs seeking funding for small businesses through the Business Plans Handbook. Use the search tool to locate sample business plans for businesses like yours! It is useful to see what other business owners have thought to include in their business plans. Contact Sno-Isle Libraries if you need help to find a good match with your business.

The Small Business Reference Center also has a “Start-up Kit & Business Plans” category with both sample plans and tips for “Editing and Finalizing Your Business Plan.”

Running Your Business (page 14)

It’s time to make some money! Use your Lynda.com keyword-searching skills to learn about providing great customer service, sales skills, and more.

You might also benefit from brushing up on some business law with the Legal Information Reference Center.


These are just some suggestions for how to use Sno-Isle Libraries' resources for the Student Entrepreneur Challenge. Explore other ways to make use of the Business & Finance research resources to make your business even better. The more databases you use in your business plan, the higher your score for the prize!

There was one place where I could find out who I was and what I was going to become.
And that was the public library.
- Jerzy Kosinski