This article is shall discuss a business idea many people are sleeping on. In my career, I have noticed a serious shortage or lack of relevant data. As a researcher, it is frustrating when you are looking for certain statistics and they are not readily available online. Let us suppose I need stats on how many Zimbabweans aged between 24 and 35 purchased a car in the last 12 months. It might be impossible for me to get such information. This is a bitter irony when you look at how data is a precious commodity nowadays. Global titans like Facebook and Google owe their success to having priceless streams of data that informs strategy. So, this is why I felt I should share with you how you can start a survey business in Zimbabwe.
To get an understanding of possible approaches let me explain the survey element a bit. This entails developing, rolling out and subsequently making analyses of collected data. The crux is to have empirical data and or evidence available that can be used to inform decision-making for some cause. This means a survey business will be a business that specializes in offering such services. Thus a service provider in this realm could be open-ended i.e. they can take on any clients. Alternatively, they can be solely focused on one particular field or industry. The most obvious client pool will be businesses but it goes way beyond that. Other types of clients can be government institutions or civil society organizations or projects just to mention a few.
You can start by operating from home; only at a much later point might you need office space. Especially now given the pandemic it is very possible to do everything from home. You will need to invest in a good and reliable PC (and or desktop computer), smartphone, tablet, internet connection and even VoIP phone, amongst others. Obviously, you will need a website and to set up social media accounts for the business.
You can start solo and scale over time as your clientele grows. Human capital needs can also be kept minimum by the use of outsourcing. The other thing that also minimizes human capital needs is the many automation tools out there. It is even important to know that you stand to make more profit if you ride solo; which is possible.
In starting not much capital is needed really. In essence, you can start the business solo with minimal capital requirements. Only when the survey projects becoming bigger will there be a need for more resources across the board. Operating expenses tend to be variable from project to project.
The market is vast and depends on where you want to focus. Just the businesses pool alone is an infinite market pool. Even if you target the civic society pool i.e. NGOs and the like, it is still an infinite pool. So there is no question about how big the market is. You can either niche or you can choose to be open-ended.
One of your key questions can be how much do I charge for my services? It is not really an easy question to answer given the variable nature of possible projects. In general, qualitative surveys tend to be more expensive than quantitative ones; it is obvious. However, virtually any survey includes elements so you will have to strike a balance.
An easier pricing model would be to charge per project i.e. a flat fee or charge. Alternatively, you can explore a charge per hour thus you will be charging for your time spent on the project. Bottom line is that there are just too many factors or variables at play to pin down pricing to specific figures.
The survey business field depends on your reputation. How well do you conduct your surveys? How rich, accurate, and informative are your findings and analyses? These are things that will create a name for your brand and cause you to be sought-after.
It is also vital to know there are serious implications when it comes to ethics in conducting surveys. Make sure you are doing things properly without doing anything illegal or infringing on people’s rights. You would not want to end up being sued for loads of money just because you violated some ethics. Make sure you are fully acquainted with the ethics codes that guide any survey you conduct.
This is a good business venture especially for those who are skilled in conducting research. I also feel that people with a background in project management or project monitoring and evaluation would do well here. So let us try out this business idea; there is a huge gap when it comes to research firms in Zimbabwe. You can make lots of money by coming in as a survey business.