This is the third and final part of our series on the Top 10 Entrepreneurial Research Mistakes. Use these links to read Part 1, Which Methodology to Use and Part 2, Asking Smart Questions. The series came out of a workshop we developed to help the entrepreneurs at 1871 be smarter about the market research they were conducting without the help of research professionals. After years of working with entrepreneurs in the Chicago area, the most common research mistakes I encounter fall into three main camps: – Research methodology selection – The questions asked and the answer choices provided – The care & feeding of respondents/participants Today’s post covers the third of the three categories: The care & feeding of your respondent, which is really all about respecting your respondents’ time and limitations. 8. Asking unqualified respondents to predict the future Don’t ask broad and forward-looking questions of all respondents, such as: “What skillsets will be the most valuable to technology job seekers within the next five years?” Instead maybe ask something grounded in what the respondent might actually have direct, credible knowledge. An example of this is: “What technology jobs is your company currently having a hard time filling?” Another example is: “What new technology positions will your company be adding next year?” 9. Expecting respondents to create/iterate for you In my experience, most people have a hard time responding to white space requests like, “What features should we add to our product?” They are much better at reacting to concrete choices that you present, for example, “Please rank the following features in the order of your interest in them.” While this does require that you and your team actually take the time to brainstorm and write up possible new feature options for parsing, that is your job. 10. Using the same survey for different kinds of respondents As with any customer outreach, you need to have a clear picture of whom you are talking to. Is it current users of your service? Previous users? At its most basic level, the wording of questions will vary depending on whether you’re talking in the present tense or past. And it only gets more complicated from there. Here’s a real world example of two questions on the same survey that are written for two different audiences: current users in the first and previous users in the second: • What is most intimidating or challenging about your current fundraising situation? • How much money did your fundraiser raise? Avoiding the common market research mistakes laid out in this series will not only help you make better use of your time and resources, it will get you information you can use to drive your company forward for future growth in a more informed way!