What OS and FileMaker version are you using?
That would help wouldn't it.
Mac 10.5.5 clients
Here are two methods that work for me. I have FMP 10, but believe that these will work for FMP 9 as well.
Modify your relationships to be based on Serial ID's.
When users need to select a business, use a formatted field with a 2 column value list.
Column 1 is the ID number.
Column 2 is the business name.
With 10, you have the option of making column 1 invisible. FMP 9 may also.
Give the user a field for entering or selecting a name.
Use the business name to perform a find on your business information table.
If you find one matching record, use this record's business ID number to link your current record to this business information record.
If you have multiple matches, present the user with a list of matching business records and allow them to click on a business name to select it.
If no names match, use Show Custom Dialog to tell them that so that they can try again.
I've kept this last option a bit fuzzy. The details will vary a bit depending on how you've set up your tables and layouts.
I had missed the multi item value list feature as I have not needed to make any value lists recently. Looks like that feature is designed for exactly this situation. I'll try it out and let you know how it goes.
Multi-column value lists are not as capable in FMP as I'd like, but does have its uses. Be sure to investigate the difference between drop down lists and pop up menus if you try to hide the number column. In 10 at least, they behave differently.
Multi column value list will do it for me. Funny that the behavior is different dependent upon which way the list is shown. We've always used drop downs and the way it operates does what I need.
Thanks for the idea.