As a student it's not unusual to come across terms, concepts or ideas that are either vague or alltogether unknown to you. One of the best sources of general business information, especially definitions of concepts is Investopedia.com. Next time you come across a ratio or finance formula or marketing terms that's unknown to you, try it out.
It can be very useful to search for recent industry press articles in order to develeop your understanding of the political, economic, social, technological, technological, environmental and legal factors that affect an industry. The best databases for this pupose are Business Source Premier, ABI Inform Trade and Industry and LexisNexis since they are full of industry specific news publications that can be useful for this type of analysis
Researching a target market and/or marketing environment can be complex, time consuming and difficult. Your best bet is to start early. Simply put, this is not the kind of research you do in an all night cram session. Or even the day before. The type of research required to assess markets and industries is rarely canned or 'out of the box.' Instead it requires the researcher to check many industry, statistical and demographic resources in order to gather together a portrait of the geographic area (target market assessment) or industry (marketing environment.)
For your target market assessment your single most useful tool will be SimplyMap. This is an amazing resource that allows you to see demographic, psychographic and behavioral information by state,county, city, zip code or census block.The goal of using a database like SimplyMap is to see where your customers are concetrated and how many of them potentially exist. You'll need to brainstorm behaviors and attributes of your potential customers/target market and SimplyMap measures them in a geographic area.
It's also helpful to analyze competitive environments. Easiest way to do this is via the industry reports below. These will give you intelligence on the size of the market, major players, types of offerings, preferred products and services, etc.