Business Survey ProjectBuilding community, awareness, and understanding through commerce.
- New American business owners
- One volunteer in Fargo, North Dakota.
The Business Survey project aims to counter negative stereotypes and raise the profile of new American entrepreneurs’ small businesses.
How The Business Survey Project Builds Relationships
Barry revised his questionnaire as he came to understand how his question about total income made business owners uncomfortable.
- No costs beyond transportation for the volunteer.
First round of interviews took six months (January 2015 to July 2015), but Barry hopes to continue the project indefinitely. He conducted approximately 120 hours of interviews in the first stage. He planned for hour-long interviews, but they usually ran for about three hours.
Barry made strong relationships with many new Americans through his work at the Fargo Human Rights Commission, which gave him a strong start. He knew how businesses worked and what people want to know about businesses. To present the project, Barry asked someone to help him put together a PowerPoint presentation.
No official sponsor, but the survey was initially intended to provide information for a Lutheran Social Services conference
Our Story: "Building genuine connections with the business-owners should take first priority."
“It could have been done more quickly, but I was just having so much fun.”
Each business Barry interviewed received initial bumps in business from his work. Aside from the financial benefits, he now understands the necessity of these businesses in new American communities. He understands the businesses provide goods and services while acting as community centers for new Americans. As a result, the mainstream Fargo community understands the validity and necessity of these businesses. The project also connected and developed cooperation among new American business owners.
The language barriers while interviewing provided the most daunting challenge. Understanding that both parties must overcome the barrier constitutes the best method for overcoming the barrier. Barry warns that “[Americans] can be very shaming in the way we ask people if they speak English,” further exacerbating the language barrier. Determining the financial “tipping point” for these business-owners provides a substantial challenge as well.
Things to Remember
- Prepare questions, but develop rapport with respondents before asking them. The interviews should be personal and at least a little fun.
- Work with and within the new American communities. The project must promote their business first.
- Understand cultural and social interactions. Maintain a polite and friendly demeanor.