Strategies for catching a snark: SME entrepreneurs and their perceptions of business advisers

Ardley, Barry, Moss, Philip and Taylor, Nick (2014) Strategies for catching a snark: SME entrepreneurs and their perceptions of business advisers. In: 19th International Colloquium on Entrepreneurial and Small Business Marketing, “Sustainability, Entrepreneurial Marketing and Marketing Practice in SMEs”, 4th September 2014, Birmingham Business School.

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The aim is to examine the perceptions of small business entrepreneurs, regarding the efficacy of external business advisers in delivering strategic and operational guidance.
The research is interpretivist, exploring the views of SME owner/managers in manufacturing. Five in depth interviews were carried out, revealing a range of decision stories about external business advisers.
Research limitations/implications
It would be worthwhile to examine the perceptions of additional entrepreneurs to business advisers, in order compare research findings.
Whilst there was scepticism towards the use of advisers for assistance with general strategy with short targeted assignments being received more favourably, the research revealed that levels of trust, relationship building and the credibility of the consultant are substantial factors in determining whether the engagement is successful or not. Cost is seen as an additional issue.
Practical implications
It is suggested that policy regarding advice to small businesses be framed around the local context of the firm and its owner, rather than on broad and generalisable systems of business knowledge. Time and effort is required in order to build a sustainable relationship between advisers and owners.
Social implications
The research suggests that potentially, industrial policy regarding current delivery of small business advice requires some readjustments towards more of a relationship focus.
Little established research appears to exist in relation to the tendency or otherwise, for SME decision makers to pursue and utilise external advice. This paper helps to fill an important gap in the literature whilst offering some significant and nuanced insights into the perceptions of SME owner managers.

Keywords:SME manufacturing, business support, interpretive, – contextual
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N500 Marketing
Divisions:College of Social Science
ID Code:15102
Deposited On:30 Sep 2014 20:29

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