Where to Get Research Assistance for Your Business Plan - dummies

Where to Get Research Assistance for Your Business Plan

By Steven D. Peterson, Peter E. Jaret, Barbara Findlay Schenck

If your business planning research requires questionnaires, focus groups, or phone or in-person interviews, consider bringing in specialists to help you maintain objectivity and convey professionalism throughout the process. Contact research firms, marketing firms, and public-relations companies for help.

Another good resource is your Small Business Development Center. To find a nearby center, visit the Local Resources listing of the Small Business Association website.

Method Purpose Advantages Challenges
Questionnaires and surveys Obtain general information Anonymous, inexpensive, easy to analyze, and easy to format and
conduct in person or online
Impersonal, feedback may not be accurate, and wording can skew
results
Interviews Obtain information and probe answers Develop customer relationships, are adaptable to each
situation, and access fuller range of information
Time consuming, reliant on good interviewers, and difficult to
analyze
Observation Document actual buyer behavior Anonymous, immediate findings, and relatively easy to
implement
Can be difficult to interpret findings and to target which
behaviors to monitor
Documentation review Study factual history of clients and transactions Readily available, not disruptive to operations, not subject to
interpretation
Time-consuming, research may be incomplete, and research is
limited to previously collected data
Focus groups Find out about and compare customer experiences and
reactions
Convey information to customers, collect customer
impressions
Requires expert facilitation and advance scheduling; difficult
to analyze findings