Cost of professional support leaves businesses turning to family and friends for advice

As small businesses are being offered the chance to receive £2,000 worth of free growth support, research has shown that small business owners often turn to family and friends for advice due to concerns over the cost of professional support.

As small businesses are being offered the chance to receive £2,000 worth of free growth support, research has shown that small business owners often turn to family and friends for advice due to concerns over the cost of professional support.

Research carried out for the Growth Voucher Scheme, which is being run in Nottinghamshire by Nottingham Business School and Nottingham University Business School, found that 69% of decision makers in small businesses have approached someone in their personal life for help, compared to 57% who have taken advice from a professional.

This is despite 36% of the 1,000 small business decision makers surveyed saying that they are most likely to trust guidance from a professional above other sources of advice, and 60% feeling that they would gain from some form of professional advice.

Cost was highlighted as the most common reason why people do not seek professional business advice - 43% of those who have taken advice from friends and family said they did so because it was free; and four in ten businesses that haven't taken professional advice felt that it is too expensive.

However, many local businesses in Nottingham who have accessed university support, either for free or at a reduced cost, have seen their businesses grow.

Di Slaney, managing director of Diversity Marketing in Nottingham, worked with Nottingham Trent University to review the company's brand position and skill set. She said: "It was great to be able to take a step back and have a fresh pair of eyes on our company, particularly having reached such a major milestone. We now have a much clearer vision of where we are and where we want to be, and can make informed decisions based on a more holistic view of our options."

Nottingham Trent University helped us to identify the core issue that was preventing our business from achieving growth.

Nigel Holling, Managing Director of the Bittersweet Chocolate Co

Nigel Holling, managing director of the Bittersweet Chocolate Co, added: "Nottingham Trent University helped us to identify the core issue that was preventing our business from achieving growth. As a result of their initial guidance we have now moved the business forward with far greater confidence and success. Without this support it is quite possible that our business would be faced with the prospect of failure rather than the expansion we are currently seeing."

The need for professional support for small business growth was recently demonstrated by Nottingham Business School's Thinkubator Challenge, which saw businesses submit 60 real problems to be solved by students and staff.

When responding to the challenges, Nottingham Business School students and experts found that most businesses would benefit from support in sales and marketing, closely followed by making the most of digital technology, and then business planning and cash flow. These findings are consistent with those of the Growth Voucher Scheme survey. Thinkubator participants, mostly start-ups and SMEs, were looking for help with marketing, particularly online, management, planning and finance to support growth.

All of these topics are covered by the Growth Voucher Scheme, which provides match funding to enable SMEs to pay for and access high quality leadership and management advice, halving the cost of a series of growth advice workshops and one-to-one mentoring support.

Almost one third of the businesses who submitted challenges to Thinkubator were potentially eligible for the programme and were advised to sign up for the upcoming diagnostic workshops being held in Nottingham and other locations around the UK.

Places are on a first come, first served basis and all businesses who attend will receive £500 worth of advice, including one-to-one mentoring, initial recommendations and a growth action plan they can utilise right away.

Following the diagnostic events, half of the participating businesses will be chosen at random to receive a voucher worth 50% of the cost of the growth programme. Those allocated the Growth Vouchers will receive £2,000 match funding towards the cost of attending ten half day workshops and will also receive up to 10 hours of expert business mentoring.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Helen Breese, Media Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8751, or via email; or Dave Rogers, Head of Communications, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email.

    To be eligible for the Growth Voucher Programme, applicants must have a business registered in England, have between 1 and 20 employees, have an annual turnover of less than €4 million or £3.2 million, own 75% or more of their business and have been actively selling goods and/or services for at least 12 months. Diagnostic Days will take place in January and workshops during February and March 2015.

    To apply, visit the website or for further information contact NBS Business.

    1,003 business decision makers were surveyed online by Censuswide between 8 - 14 October 2014

Cost of professional support leaves businesses turning to family and friends for advice

Published on 8 December 2014
  • Category: Press office; Nottingham Business School

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