Start with a SWOT analysis:
You can do your own SWOT analysis by collecting information from multiple sources, such as company profiles, industry & market information, and news. If you are researching on a public company, take a look at its Annual Report (or 10-K), especially the section "Risk Factors."
Explore the company website, consider the following:
Interview the company, if possible. State that you are a student researching on the company for academic work, and that you will agree to sign any non-disclosure agreement. Call and ask them nicely. You might be surprised
!! Most of the "internal information" (e.g., HR practices) of small private firms is highly unlikely to be available in secondary sources; in this case, talking with the company is the only way !!
Read reviews, if available. Although customer reviews can be biased and unreliable, consistently positive or negative reviews should be taken into account. Consumers often find weaknesses that the company may not be aware of. However, be realistic -- you can't be all things to all people. Always keep your target market in mind.
Take a look at the competitors (you can find them through ReferenceUSA or Google) and consider:
Do an Environmental Scan, an examination of the external and internal environments: