What do businesses do when seeking advice? Phone a friend or an accountant

Business owner and adviser
28 Mar 2012 17:46:13.573
PA 102/12

Last November, Business Link support for businesses went on line and their old system ceased to be. There are no advisers, there are no more face to face consultations 

So, now that one less option is available to businesses looking for support, where do business owners go for that essential piece of personal advice?


Participants of the UK Business Barometer (UKBB) and UK Business Adviser Barometer (UKBAB), run by The University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI), posed that very question, asking businesses to whom they would turn to first when the need for advice arose?

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Just over one-quarter (28 per cent) of respondents use an accountant, one-fifth go to colleagues (21 per cent), smaller proportions use business advisers/consultants (15 per cent) and trade organizations (8 per cent). Just over one-tenth reported that they used nobody in particular (12 per cent).

Martin Rigley of Lindhurst Engineering Ltd said: “There are a plethora of business support organisations, the part of the jigsaw that is missing is finding out about the organisation you need to interface with. Business Link did this to some degree.... what do we do now?”

James Briggs of The Harboro Rubber Co Ltd agreed: “It is shocking that there is no clear place to go for advice for someone wanting to start a business!”

Ian Thomas of Proactive Trading Group said: “A first class network of business advisors can be used to great effect for SME’s.”

“If the Government is really committed to helping small businesses, it needs to spend more money on providing good, long term assistance for such companies; two days a month for at least four consecutive months,” added Laurie Spragg of LKS Business Network.

Retrograde step

Of those that found Business Link useful, Alfred Graham of The Silk Forest said: “I don’t know why people have a down on Business Link. We have used them several times in the last 20 years. Unfailingly useful, always a source of information. Helped us through some very hard times.”

Bernard Goodchild of Management Support for SME’s stated: “My own experience suggests that clients and advisers all believe that the withdrawal of face to face government funded support is a retrograde step.”

Business advisers were asked if the demise of Business Link had led to an increase in new clients. The majority of the sample (64 per cent) stated that there had been no increase with only a small proportion stating that there had been a noticeable increase (15 per cent).

Michael Reid said: “New clients come almost without exception from networking and recommendations.” Laurence Ainsworth of Exigent Consulting added: “I think those people who used Business Link did so for the large part because it was free. If they are looking for free advice they will go to other free sources irrespective of their capability. I would expect more to go to their accountant.”


The UK Business Barometer (UKBB) and the UK Business Adviser Barometer (UKBAB) provide a snapshot of how small and medium-sized businesses are coping with the current state of the economy and aim to uncover the key issues affecting the small business market. Operating over the web means that results can be rapidly generated and the surveys have unique software that enables results to be processed and posted on their respective websites immediately they arrive.

More information, including results and analyses, can be found on the web at www.ukbb.ac and www.ukbab.ac. Businesses and advisers wishing to contribute as panellists on the project should visit the appropriate Business Barometer website to register.

To follow us on LinkedIn search for ‘UK Business Barometer’.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 40,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Louise Scholes on +44 (0)115 846 7782, louise.scholes@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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