Entrepreneurs Don't Always Go it "Alone"

August 28, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Entrepreneurs may have enjoyed a reputation for being willing to fly solo when it comes to business decisions, but they are also willing to seek outside counsel, according to a new survey.

The survey, sponsored by Wells Fargo and NFIB, found that 84% of small business sought advice during the last year from at least one person who wasn’t in the firm and wasn’t a customer. The would-be counselors were asked to provide advice on an average of five topics.

Those sought out for advice in the last 12 months included:

  • 59% of small business owners contacted an accountant
  • 44% opted for family members
  • 39% called a lawyer
  • 34% reached out for a fellow business owner
  • 31% talked things over with a supplier
  • 30% got feedback from an insurance agent or broker.

Flying Solo

A third of small-business owners have no one person that they turn to before making a critical business decision.  About 55% of those owners handle the decision on their own. The rest either change their advisor according to the situation/decision at hand or routinely consult several people.

According to the survey, entrepreneurs were most likely to act on the advice when they had paid for it.

Small business owners often did not pay for the advice or paid for it through purchase of other goods and services. However, payment (or the lack thereof) was tied to the type of advisor. Lawyers, for example, charged a fee to 75% of those soliciting them; a supplier charged 3%.

The entrepreneurs sough advice on

  • accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes by 73%
  • legal questions, by 56%
  • computers, software, Web sites and telecommunications by 53%
  • industry-specific technical matters by 48%.

The survey involved approximately 750 small business owners selected by Dun & Bradstreet Corporation.