Get the goods on your competitors, partners, vendors-whoever crosses your radar screen-by employing the many research tools now on the Web. Some sites charge fees, but a few good ones are still free. Either way, information is still power and it's yours to grab online.
Hoover's Online (http://www.hoovers.com) Research the competition at this site. Some reports have price tags, but most of what you'll need you can find for free.
Company Lookup (http://www.companylink.com/companylookup.cfm) News, research and contacts for 100,000 companies are what you'll find here.
Companies Online (http://www.companiesonline.com) From Dun & Bradstreet, this site offers information on just about every public and sizable private business on the Web.
BBB Online (http://www.bbbonline.org) Find information on customers and vendors quickly.
Company Sleuth (http://www.companysleuth.com) An absolutely terrific deal-it's free. Give Company Sleuth the names of up to 10 public companies, and it'll track news, stock prices, analyst reports and much more. You'll also get e-mail alerts when big news about the companies breaks.
KnowX.com (http://www.knowx.com) This site is the place to search through public records-bankruptcies, lawsuits, judgments and others-and it offers a fast way to do your due diligence on prospective partners and big customers. Searches aren't free and neither is reading the detailed results they turn up, but between $3.95 and $15 will get you the scoop on just about anybody or any business.
CreditFYI (http://www.creditfyi.com) You can find full reports on how even small companies handle their debts, and much of the info derives from Experian (nee TRW Credit). The cost per report: $14.95.