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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Small business bosses turn to spouses for ‘straight-talking advice’

My thanks to Growing Business (www.growingbusiness.co.uk) for reporting that a survey by TMobile shows Britain’s small business leaders are more likely to trust their spouses over accountants or bank managers to give open business advice.  How warming, but how sad.
Warming to know that family relationships remain so strong despite what we are led to believe by the press, and especially so in the pressure cooker of entrepreneurial businesses fighting the effects of a recession.
Sad though that they are struggling to find the necessary advice and that they are having to rely on their spouses.  Why? Because it is unlikely that their spouse is as objective as required nor is it likely that they have the skills or experience to provide the quality of advice required.
Yes, I know the survey reports that 80% of the small businesses polled stated they take advice from people who will give them the truth and will tell it to them straight, but straight doesn't necessarily mean valuable advice or result in improved performance.
And for me, this where a non exec can rally add value to a growing business.  The attributes of the best non execs for SME's are: 
- straight talking, challenging and yet constructive
- because they have previous entrepreneurial experience, and 
- they can take an objective view, complemented by
- commercial nous
I don't know about you, but not many spouses can bring those qualities to the business.
But this doesn't solve the core problem that the survey highlights; that SME's are having trouble finding the support they need and are having to turn to their spouses to fill the gap.  And this points to the need much greater availability for NED's for SME's.  
- There aren't enough NED's readily available with the special skills or experience required for the SME environment (it's very different from the corporate world) 
- There isn't the support through training and development for potential NED's in order to address the supply and skill shortage problem
- There isn't the marriage-broking service (to use a pun suitable for this piece) to bring businesses and NED's together.  
- And there is the need to ensure that businesses know how to best use their NED for maximum results
Deal with these issues and entrepreneurial businesses can be helped to growth faster, and perhaps husbands and wives can go back to caring about each other on a personal basis and simply enjoying the fruits of their endeavours.


  1. The SME owners do not understand the importance of NEDs and are not ready to pay for the services.

  2. I tend to agree - I am about to do some research on SME's to find out if this really is the case. Hopefully it will be complete in early march and I will post the outcome here. It will be interesting to see if you are right. Thanks