Who can you trust when it comes to small business advice?

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IMG-20141108-00018The other day I saw some advice from a professor in the business faculty of some university and got to wondering how this sort of stuff would actually help real life small business owners. It’s the kind of advice that comes from academic studies, surveys and book learning. Yes, there is nothing really wrong with the information but it’s far removed from the reality of the marketplace.

I picked up some interesting information on some recent research done in the US where entrepreneurship records are hitting high levels. The research showed that about 55% of entrepreneurs start businesses alone. About 23% begin with three or more founders. The interesting insight into these numbers is that many business owners start out on their own, which means that they rely on their own entrepreneurial instincts. The research didn’t show where these new business owners go for advice but presumably they tap into sources such as existing business owners, the Internet, friends and family who have run businesses and possibly business advisers and consultants. It’s hardly likely that they turn to professors from academia to find out how to run their small business.

My point: where do new business owners go for advice to launch their new business idea, product, service or venture?

I’ve seen a whole range of research that claims to know where new entrepreneurs and small business founders go to get information on starting their own business but it seems that the most valuable comes from people who are already running small businesses or have done so in the past. The reason possibly for this is because the trustworthiness of information increases the closer you get to real business people running real small businesses. They are the ones that have learnt from their mistakes, got back into the game after failing and have managed to keep going despite hard knocks.

One level away from the experience business owner is the business adviser who may have had experience in running their own business. The more attractive ones would be presently running their own small business because this provides up-to-date information that is relevant to the present business realities. A business adviser, for example, who ran a business many years back, apart from their present consulting service, may not be that effective because methods that worked only a few years ago would be out of sync with the business market of today.

When looking for business advice it’s good to seek out the best. The wrong advice can be costly for a new business owner. That’s why it’s best to get, if possible, an idea of what perhaps two or three advisers can offer before you decide to proceed with a specific business adviser. Some might argue that starting and running a small business is more art than science. So if you do decide to get involved with a business adviser or consultant rather than make all your decisions on your own it’s best to find someone who can offer real-world, relevant and current experience.

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