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Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners seeking business advice turn to search engines ahead of a variety of alternative solutions, according to new research by Informi.

According to a survey of over 500 business owners with between one and 249 employees, 19% look to searches from the likes of Google as the main area that they turn to for support from an information point of view.

However, accountants are most trusted source of support for SMEs, followed by business websites (11%), business networks (10%), and other SMEs (8%) as their main source of information.

Only 4% would seek business advice from their local bank and as little as 2% would find support from the IFA or a broker.

While Google is proving a popular information tool for SME owners at present, it was not so popular when those owners actually set their business up, with just 11% saying that search engines were the main area they turned to at that time.

Accountants again proved the main source of information when owners were in the process of starting their business (22%), with family and friends (15%) surprisingly also proving highly popular.

As little as 3% would turn to Government websites for support when setting up their business, as only 2% noted business magazines as a useful source for information.

Darren Nicholls, product manager for Informi, said: “It can be a daunting process not only when you first start a business but throughout the period that you are heading it up. Our research goes on to show that it took 13% of SME owners over two years before they felt fully confident in running their business, and indeed 4% tell us they are still not fully confident in doing so.

“It’s essential that you don’t try and go it alone, but get as much advice as you can from multiple sources – such as business experts, online tools and resources, and those around you.”