The 10 best SME advisers in the UK

Research shows that those firms that take advice do better than those that don’t – and it stands to reason that good advice can help avoid some of the damaging, early mistakes entrepreneurs can make that can often force them to give up.

Thanks to the Government’s £30m Growth Voucher initiative, there is now an increasing interest in taking strategic advice to overcome some of these behavioural barriers and unlock growth potential. 

But there is also a rich vein of dedicated supporters for the UK’s expanding entrepreneurial culture.

Jon Green, who offers financial advice to help local early stage entrepreneurs, was picked from hundreds of advisers from around the UK for his high-tech approach to working with Hampshire start-ups and social enterprises.

Green runs Approved Accounting Ltd from his office in Old Copse Road. He said: “It is very common and quite natural to find the challenge of starting a business very daunting and perhaps even overwhelming at times – there is so much to think about, and much of it is uncharted territory for most people.

“That’s why it is essential to have someone on your side who can guide you through it. It is so valuable to be able to draw on the experience of someone who has been through the same process with other businesses, and has seen both successes and failures along the way. There are so many things to think about when starting a business, and it goes far beyond just having a good idea.”

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation said: “These business advisers are the unsung heroes behind Britain’s booming small business culture and we’ve uncovered some incredible work that has helped fledgling firms take steps towards sustainability and growth by taking a strategic look at their business.

Here are the top ten:

  1. Alison Edgar, an accredited sales coach and Growth Voucher adviser from Chippenham, Wiltshire
  2. Martyn Benson, a start-up adviser working with Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RIDO) in Rotherham
  3. Adrian Ashton, a start-up and growth adviser working with ex-offenders in Todmorden in West Yorkshire
  4. Kieron O’Toole, a specialist in leadership and management advice for growing firms, based in Redditch, West Midlands
  5. Philip Dyer, a passionate supporter of small businesses and an accredited marketing specialist working in Preston, Lancashire
  6. Quentin Pain, a marketing coach based in London
  7. Warren Knight, a social media expert and entrepreneur operating in London
  8. Jo Sealy, a food marketing adviser from Walthamstow
  9. Jon Green, a financial adviser from Havant in Hampshire
  10. Bill Fox, a small business adviser, based in Ashford in Kent
Edgas’s top tips on finding the right adviser are: 

Ideally, get recommendations from people you know in business

“The best advisers don’t have to look too hard for new work, but instead gain it by reputation and performance. Our view is that happy customers are the best form of marketing for your business.”

Look online

“You can search very quickly and easily for specific people, specific areas of expertise etc, so it shouldn’t take long to find the right adviser for you, or at least a shortlist to speak to.”

If you’re going to work successfully with someone, you need to like them

“Have an initial chat with a few candidates, and find someone who you feel ‘knows their stuff’ but also has the right attitude and approach. Someone you feel is on your side.”

A Government report entitled Growing Your Business, written by Enterprise Adviser Lord Young suggested if Britain’s smallest firms were to take on just one more employee each, it would eradicate unemployment in the UK.

He said: “The evidence is unequivocal: businesses that seek and engage external help are more likely to grow. But much more needs to be done to encourage firms to invest in their capability.”

A report from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce suggested by 2018 there would be more than 5m people working for themselves in this country – exceeding the number working in the public sector for the first time.

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