2019 has been an exciting year so far at People for Research – not only are we getting ready to officially launch our new Accessibility Collective, but we are also developing other services like our specialised business panel.

With the business landscape continuously changing and events like Brexit on the horizon, we have noticed a massive growth in the amount of business and niche recruitment projects ran by our clients. This case study we published last year with the Department for International Trade (DIT) is a perfect example of the type of projects we have been working on.

Running research with business professionals and people in senior roles is tough, whether you are working with a third-party user recruitment agency like People for Research or doing the recruitment yourself. To help make your life easier, we put together six top tips to help you better manage your business project.

1. Planning is key

Recruiting business owners, self-employed people and professionals in senior roles is rarely a smooth process. Therefore, and especially if you are doing the recruitment yourself, creating a plan at the start of the project setting out your objectives and listing methods and sources of recruitment is essential.

I would recommend evaluating the success of your methods on a weekly basis to report on what is working and what is not. This will allow you to adapt you plan accordingly.

Part of planning properly is accounting for the time it will take to find these people. Make sure you give yourself or your recruitment partner a minimum of three weeks to find your desired audience. For example, at People for Research, we work according to lead times between three and six weeks.

2. Think outside of the box

Finding this type of participants can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Our best piece of advice is to get creative and think outside if the box. Often you will have to use multiple avenues and techniques to get the type of person you want. For example, industry associations, online forums, trade journals, LinkedIn, trade shows, social media, networking, etc.

3. Be flexible and realistic

While criteria is important when recruiting business owners and niche professionals, it’s essential to remember that not everyone will fit into your desired box. However, they could still offer insightful feedback that could help to improve your product or service.

At the start of the recruitment, I recommend:

+ Defining your primary criteria (the essentials).

+ Focussing on your secondary criteria (what is nice-to-have).

+ Be clear when communicating the criteria hierarchy to your recruitment partner, if working with one.

By being too rigid in your recruitment you are likely to miss out on those who could really help. Also, if you have been looking for two to three weeks and are not coming up with recruits, it may be time to re-evaluate your criteria. Do these people really exist?

4. Pay participants what they deserve

Although money is not usually the main motivator for professionals to take part in research, you should still make sure that your participants feel appreciated by providing an incentive that matches their job title and values their time. The incentive amount and type (bank transfers are the best option; avoid vouchers) should reflect their seniority and experience, as well as account for travel time/expenses when taking part in face-to-face sessions.

If your incentive is too low, the quality and calibre of the participants willing to offer up their time may not be as beneficial to your research as those who require a little extra money. It’s a matter of budget versus quality of feedback – which is more important for your project?

5. Be upfront (when possible)

Like most people, business owners and senior professionals like to know exactly what they are getting into – especially if that means they might be asked to talk about confidential information. In all projects we work on, we are always upfront about the fact that the participants will not be required to share any business sensitive information during the research session. This puts the participants’ minds at easy and increases the number of applications and the level of interest.

Something else that also works is to name the company or organisation that is running the research: 99.9% of the time I would recommend the client allows us to use their company name throughout the recruitment project, as it holds weight and legitimacy for business professionals. It allows complete transparency from the start of the research and helps the professionals make a decision if they would like to take part in the research.

6. Create a pipeline for the future

If you often recruit business or niche participants yourself, you are likely to speak to many different professionals on your search for the perfect fit. While they may not be right for a specific brief, they could offer valuable insight later down the line.

It’s important to think long-term, but you also need to remember that managing data is not an easy task (especially in a post-GDPR era), so if you decide to go ahead, tread carefully and make sure data protection and informed consent are among your priorities.

If recruiting the right business owners or niche senior professionals for your project still sounds like an impossible task, then consider working with a third-party recruitment partner like People for Research. If you would like to find out more about our services, email with your questions or request a quote.



Nicole Partington, Head of Projects

If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user testing or market research get in touch on 0117 921 0008 or

At People for Research, we recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner up with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.