Simply the Best: An Exploration of Advice That Small Business Owners Value

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Advice-seeking, Networking, Small business, Online communication, Gender


While most networking research focuses on quantity and composition of contacts, this study explores factors underlying the advice and advisors most valued by small business owners. Owners (n = 528) were asked to indicate the formal and informal sources they had relied on for advice during the previous year and to identify which was most beneficial to them, what types of advice they received from their best advisor, and how they communicated. Length of ownership and founder status influenced what type of advisor was most valued by owners. Overall network breadth, owner demographics, and business characteristics were significantly associated with the nature of advice and support this preferred advisor provided, even after controlling for advisor type. Gender, age, and location predicted the extent to which owners communicated with their preferred advisor online, which affected the level of emotional support received. Results suggest the importance of studying the perceived quality of external business advice, and practical implications for facilitating soft support for small business owners.


This article was originally published as Kristine M Kuhn, Tera L Galloway, Maureen Collins-Williams. 2017. Simply the best: An exploration of advice that small business owners value. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 8: 33-40.