Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been putting a lot of time into writing my business plan. This will be what The Prince’s Trust committee will base their decision on when selecting whether Silly Cushions gets through to the launch stage of the programme or not.
One of the sections of the business plan requires me to do a lot of research into my target selling locations and possible customer base. This involves conducting surveys.
I’m using Survey Monkey to send electronic surveys out to some poor unsuspecting individuals, but I’m also required to go out into my target selling location - Greenwich - and stop actual people and demand they they answer a list of probably quite strange questions before they can continue with their nice day out.
This is a prospect that terrifies me. As someone who is constantly rushing around in town I know how annoying it is to get stopped by people doing surveys. If I see one further down the pavement I will actively cross the road so they can’t try to persuade me to stop and talk to them. And I’m not the only one doing this. The fact that the pavement with the person doing the survey on is almost empty, while the opposite side of the road is teeming with so many people it’s almost impossible to move, is no coincidence.
If you are one of those people who hasn’t been concentrating and you find that you've forgotten to cross the road early enough to avoid the gaze and subsequent approach of Survey Guy, you'd better have your excuse not to talk to him ready. The classic ones are that you’ll miss your bus if you stop, or that your phone’s suddenly started ringing silently and you need to answer it. One excuse I’ve heard has stuck with me though.
At the age of around 13 I was with a friend in the centre of Cirencester in Gloucestershire doing a survey for our Geography project for school. We had to ask people rubbish questions such as how had they got into town that day. We got a few of the usual array of excuses for why people couldn’t stop, but one very English guy we asked simply said in the most clear Queen’s English I’ve ever heard, ‘Look, I’m really sorry. I would answer your questions but I don’t actually speak English. Have a good day, yeah?’ It took a moment for us to actually realise what had just happened and by then he was half way off down the road. Amazing.
Let’s just hope no one uses that one on me when I head off into Greenwich to do my surveys and subject myself to feeling like the most unpopular person to ever dare to enter the Borough.