Chapter 2 described the derivation of a sample of 636 single­ plant independent manufacturing companies and the financial characteristics of those companies. It was found that the high failure rates unique to small companies created considerable data and analysis problems. In this chapter the non-financial information filed at Companies House by 146 of these compan­ ies is analysed to highlight other unique aspects of small companies which need to be taken into consideration when making an assessment of their past performance and future prospects. The chapter includes details of the economic, finan­ cial and legal constraints within which the small company operates. These environmental factors may explain many of the unique features characteristic of small companies such as high failure rates, lack of sustained growth and paucity of reliable data.