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For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

How to create effective customer questionnaires

The humble questionnaire is a very powerful tool. Not only does it allow you to find out what your customers think, it’s also a great way to boost customer loyalty and build relationships. But what makes a successful questionnaire? Drayton Bird and Andrew Boddington have the answers

Nobody knows more about questionnaires than my colleague Andrew Boddington, who is one of the best direct marketers I know.

I have worked with him for many years now off and on. So, after one or two comments from me, he has kindly written a quick guide to what you should know about the subject.

Why questionnaires?

Some techniques - and questionnaires are a good example - are so deceptively simple and obvious that marketers ignore them. They're not "creative" enough.

Well, forget "creative". I like things that work. And questionnaires work.

People love to give you their opinions. The questionnaire is a very unthreatening way to approach people.

You just have to ask nicely and often amazingly high percentages will reply.

When they do reply, this gives you an excuse to talk to them again.

So here is Andrew's advice for you:

  • People agonise over making the survey short for maximum response, but do not fear a long survey. As long as the first few questions seem natural and logical to the reader, they will complete it.
  • If you have some questions which are more important than others, make sure the survey has clear sections - the first with the main questions, then the next with an introduction such as "You do not have to answer these, but if you do so, it'll mean x, y and z benefit...and will only take a few minutes more..."
  • Response can be increased by a variety of details. A lot depends on the honesty in the introduction, explaining why you are doing the survey, what is in it for the responder (altruism, sense of helping self or fellows, and maybe even the chance to win something in a free draw, as a gesture of thanks), explaining how the results will be used, and even how they can see a copy of the results (usually a simple summary).
  • People love being asked for their opinion ("your opinion matters to us"), so use flattery to increase participation.
  • Make the introduction from someone they already might know and respect, rather than have no name at all. Even have it look like a letter, with a signature and photo for a touch of warmth.
  • Much depends on the layout, the clarity of typeface and typography, and the use of colours, tints and boxed sections make it look less daunting.
  • It sounds radical, but question how much response is really needed. Statistically a lower response sample may be fine, as long as the views are representative.
  • Try a reminder mailing/emailing after the natural response has dried up from the first survey. Non-responders are not against responding, they just have busy lives, so a courteous reminder will typically get half as much response again.
  • Consider how/when the survey gets handed over, emailed or mailed. Is there a better moment, so they'll be more disposed to take part?

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