Surveys for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

How can surveys help get your start up off the ground?

No one can predict the future, and it can be difficult to determine whether your business idea will work in the real world. There is often a very fine line that divides ideas that are wildly successful with those that are a spectacular failure.

Most smart entrepreneurs will speak to family members, friends, coworkers, and anyone else that they think may be able to give them helpful feedback. However, such a small (and non-objective) sample is very likely not going to be representative of a larger target market, and many start-ups find themselves wondering why their potential customers don’t seem to be as enthusiastic as their mother/best friend/secretary did.

So what is an aspiring entrepreneur to do? Conducting a survey online can help you get in to the minds of your potential target market and find out if your idea is viable.

Here are some tips for researching your business idea with an online survey.

  1. Make sure your questions are extremely specific. Before you start designing your survey, make a list of the insights you are hoping to obtain by sending out this survey.  This will help you create questions that will return the data in a way that is useful.
    For example, let’s say you are trying to determine a price point for your new product. Don’t ask, “Would you be willing to pay a lot for this product?” Every person’s definition of ‘a lot’ can vary, and there is no actionable insight that could be derived from these responses. Instead you can ask, “How much would you be willing to spend on this product?” Make sure to provide a list of specific price ranges as your answer choices (ie, $50-$75, $76-$95) for the respondent to choose from. Don’t try to cover too much at once or you’ll exhaust the respondents; keep your survey narrowly focused.
  2. Include open-ended questions.  Give your respondents a chance to share some of their ideas with you by including at least one open ended question in your survey. For example, “Describe what you are looking for in Product XYZ.” You may be surprised at the insights you can uncover when you give people an open forum for their thoughts.
  3. Collect Demographic Information somewhere in your survey. Demographic information includes gender, age, income, education etc.  This will help you analyze your responses (see below.)
  4. Ask respondents if you can follow up by including a subscription question. For example, “Would you be willing to receive additional surveys regarding this product/service? If so, please provide your contact information below.”
  5. Tailor your survey to individual respondents to keep them engaged and prevent them from rushing through your questions. You can use advanced survey design features such as piping, which inserts prior responses into follow up questions, or page jumping, which skips respondents to specific pages based on their responses, to send each respondent on individualized path through your survey.
  6. Consider buying a sample of respondents. Often, your pool of family of friends will only extend so far. Buying a sample of qualified respondents from a panel company can help you extend the reach of your survey and tap into a much larger market. Panel companies offer specific targeting capabilities, so that you can choose exactly who you want to receive your survey.
  7. Analyze your responses. Once the data comes in, don’t just take it at face value. For example, “55% of my respondents said they would spend $50-$65 on my products, so that must be the perfect price point.”  This may seem simple enough, but you can use filters and cross tab analysis to delve a little deeper into your data by comparing answers across respondents.  You may discover, for example, that 75% of respondents between the ages of 18-25 would only pay $35- $49 for your product. This is an important insight that can prevent you from excluding a large portion of your target market.

Here are some examples of questions you can address with a survey:

–          Is my price point reasonable?

–          What is the demographic this is most interested in my product/service?

–          What factors influence people to purchase this product/service?

–          How frequently do people purchase this product/service?

For more information on using surveys, visit

2 responses to “Surveys for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

  1. Excellent post but I was wondering if you could write a litte
    more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Appreciate it!

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