Business Owner Survey Questions

Business Owner Survey Questions

Once you have selected a survey technique or techniques, you must determine what questions you want to ask. Because business owners will want to spend a limited amount of time on a survey, you must design yours to ask only the most important questions. Unlike typical written surveys where respondents may remain anonymous, business owners must be identified so you can give them follow-up assistance. This is called an “open” business owner survey. Open surveys must avoid sensitive areas, such as income and expenditures. You can also design a second, anonymous business owner survey to collect sensitive information.

Information Sought in an Open Business Owner Survey

The following are kinds of information organizations such as economic development associations, chambers of commerce and the like typically seek in an open business owner survey. ResearchUSA will help you formulate your questions. You will probably think of additional questions; your goal is to gather information that is most important to your market analysis efforts.

Contact Information

Needs and Opportunities Assessment—determine:

  • If they are experiencing any business challenges.
  • What information or assistance they or their employees could use.
  • How useful are your organization’s existing products and services to their business.
  • How useful would products and services proposed by your organization be to their business.
  • What other business incentives or assistance have they used or plan to use.
  • Their attitudes about being a business owner in your community.
  • How satisfied they are with their present location.
  • If they have plans to expand or reduce operations.
  • If they, or the building owner, are considering any building improvement projects.

Business and Workforce Data—determine:

  • Their business or professional activity code (NAICS).
  • How long they have been in operation.
  • How long they have owned the business.
  • Whether their business owns or rents its space.
  • How many people they employ.
  • Where their customers typically park.
  • What percentage of their employees lives in the local community.

Market and Marketing Data—determine:

  • Their hours of operation and their thoughts on store hours.
  • Their busiest times of the week.
  • Their busiest months of the year.
  • How many customers/clients visit their business per week.
  • Community events that increased their foot traffic or sales volume.
  • Top zip codes from which their business draws customers.
  • Percentage of their annual advertising budget spent on various media.
  • Their target market.
  • Radio stations, publications, and other media included in their annual advertising budget.
  • Products and/or services that best differentiate their business from the competition.
  • Their toughest competition.
  • Traits that make their business more competitive.
  • Their target price point.
  • Downtown businesses that complement their business the most.
  • The biggest non-work reasons people stop downtown.
  • Other businesses they would most like to see locate downtown.
  • Community assets they would like to see developed (expand existing assets or create new ones).

Information Sought in an Anonymous Business Owner Survey

The ultimate goal for an anonymous business owner survey is to calculate sales per square foot, sales per employee, and rent per square foot. These statistics are calculated and used by chains, franchises and shopping centers for business planning but are not readily available for small independent downtown businesses. By pooling and summarizing this information, you can maintain confidentiality and still tell your downtown businesses how their sales and rent compare to similar businesses. You can also tell them how their rent compares to the average rent in your downtown. What’s more, you will also have generated valuable statistics for expansion and recruitment analysis, and for business planning. Use the following numbers to calculate the preceding statistics.
  • Net sales.
  • Annual rent.
  • Gross leasable area in square feet.
  • Number of full time equivalent (FTE) employees.
  • Wages


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