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The use of external business advice by SMEs in Britain




This paper reports new survey results on the extent, sourcing and impact of external business advice to SMEs in Britain. The survey, covering 2547 respondents, is the largest and most definitive assessment to date. Its results demonstrate the very wide extent of external advice: used by 95% of respondent SMEs, an increase from 85.8% in a similar survey in 1991. The analysis of the survey assesses sources of advice in terms of the level of trust that exists between the supplier and the SME client. The market appears to be strongly segmented and dominated by high trust specialist sources (accountants, lawyers), customers, suppliers and business friends. Business associations and government-backed sources play an important but lesser role. The recent government initiative of Business Link has, however, established an important market, used by 27% of respondents. Impact assessments confirm the significance of high trust private sector suppliers for the most crucial supplies of advice. Variations in use occur by SME type chiefly by size but also by sector and growth record. Generally levels of use vary by SME type to a greater extent than levels of impact.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Bennett & Paul J. A. Robson, 1999. "The use of external business advice by SMEs in Britain," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 155-180, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:entreg:v:11:y:1999:i:2:p:155-180
    DOI: 10.1080/089856299283245

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    Cited by:

    1. Rakićević, Zoran & Omerbegović-Bijelović, Jasmina & Lečić-Cvetković, Danica, 2016. "A model for effective planning of SME support services," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 30-40.
    2. Henderson, Dylan, 2020. "Demand-side broadband policy in the context of digital transformation: An examination of SME digital advisory policies in Wales," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(9).
    3. Mohd Nor Hakimin Yusoff & Razli Che Razak & Fakhrul Anwar Zainol & Hasannuddin Hassan, 2018. "Entrepreneurial Orientation and Usage of External Business Support for SMEs," International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, vol. 8(1), pages 1-11, January.
    4. Robert A. DESMAN, 2009. "Firm capital: the obscure organizational assets," REVISTA DE MANAGEMENT COMPARAT INTERNATIONAL/REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE MANAGEMENT, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 10(1), pages 19-33, March.
    5. Stoian, Maria-Cristina & Dimitratos, Pavlos & Plakoyiannaki, Emmanuella, 2018. "SME internationalization beyond exporting: A knowledge-based perspective across managers and advisers," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 768-779.
    6. Gerrit Sarens & Patricia Everaert & Frederik Verplancke & Ignace Beelde, 2015. "Diversification of External Accountants Serving Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Evidence from Belgium," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 25(2), pages 155-174, June.
    7. Robert Rieg, 2019. "Selbstständigkeit von Bilanzbuchhaltern und Controllern: Eine empirische Untersuchung zu Einkommen und Determinanten," ZfKE – Zeitschrift für KMU und Entrepreneurship, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 67(1), pages 35-66.
    8. Samad Sarminah, 2020. "Achieving innovative firm performance through human capital and the effect of social capital," Management & Marketing, Sciendo, vol. 15(2), pages 326-344, June.
    9. Kuhn, Kristine M. & Galloway, Tera L. & Collins-Williams, Maureen, 2017. "Simply the best: An exploration of advice that small business owners value," Journal of Business Venturing Insights, Elsevier, vol. 8(C), pages 33-40.
    10. Lukas Held & Andrea M. Herrmann & Allard Mossel, 2018. "Team formation processes in new ventures," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 441-464, August.

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