Over the last four months you might – or you might not have – realised that Business Link, the support service for businesses, disappeared – the victim of the government’s public sector cuts. No longer can growing businesses go to Business Link for advice or one-to-one consultations. Now, all you can access is a Business Link website. Not much help if you’re looking for someone to talk to.
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 forEnterpriseand Innovation (UNIEI), posed that very question, asking businesses to whom they would turn to first when the need for advice arose?
I’m pleased to say that accountants came out top! 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).
This is a great example of how the private sector can fill the void left by the cuts to the public sector, and I’m pleased to be part of a community that is so well trusted by SMEs.
We’ve certainly seen an upturn in small, growing businesses looking for advice and help since the public sector went through its reorganisation. And whilst there’s no doubt that Business Link and their ilk have their place, they can’t replace hands-on knowledge. After all, accountancy firms are businesses too; we know the challenges owner managers face on a day-to-day basis.
So, next time you need chat, just pick up the phone.