Advice and Advisors
• Two-thirds (66%) of small-business owners have one person with whom they are likely to consult before making a critical business decision. In 56 percent of those cases (37 % of all cases), that person will be a family member. The one person sought out for critical decisions in order of frequency is: a spouse, a partner/co-owner, a professional advisor/counselor, an employee, and a son.
• One-third (34%) of small-business owners have no one person that they turn to prior to making a critical business decision. About 55 percent of those owners handle the decision “solo.” The remainder either change the one advisor with the situation/decision or routinely consult with several people.
• In the last 12 months, 84 percent of small employers sought advice from one or more counselors (persons not in the firm and not the firm’s customers). The average number of counselors (types, not individuals) solicited was three and one-half to provide advice on an average of five different topical areas.
• Accountants were the group most likely to provide solicited advice. Fifty-nine (59) percent of small businessmen and women sought an accountant for such purposes in the last year. The next most commonly solicited advisors were family members (by 44%), lawyers (by 39%), other business owners (by 34%), suppliers (by 31%), and insurance agents and brokers (by 30%).
• The advice solicited from counselors was commonly taken. However, a relationship appeared between the likelihood of taking the advice and paying for the advice. The chances of taking advice rose when small-business owners paid for it.
• Small businessmen and women often did not pay for the advice that they received or they paid for it indirectly through purchase of other goods and services. However, payment (or the lack thereof) was tied to the type of advisor. Lawyers, for example, charged 75 percent of those soliciting them; supplier charged 3 percent.
• Fifty-seven (57) percent of small employers say that they received helpful, unsolicited suggestions from an advisor or other non-customer outside the firm in the last year. Forty-two (42) percent received them from more than one type of advisor. Family members, other business owners, and accountants provided them most frequently.
• “Accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes” was the subject on which advice was most frequently sought. Seventy-three (73) percent report that they asked for advice on one or more matters in the last year.
• Advice was also frequently sought on “legal questions” (by 56%), “computers, software, Web sites and telecommunications” (by 53%), and “industry-specific technical matters” (by 48%).