By Claire West

Consultants believe that more specialist, tailored advice would serve SMEs better than the current Business Link model offered by the government, reveals a recent survey by Skillfair, the UK’s largest online marketplace for consultants with over 10,000 members.

With over 92% of respondents unclear on how Business Link will operate in the future, comments on how government funded advice should be delivered focused on: the need for more specialists; a reduction in bureaucracy; more face-to-face consultations; and greater use of experienced consultants in the private sector.

When asked what advice small businesses need most, growth plans, financial advice and sales and marketing ranked as the top three requirements by Skillfair members.

Gill Hunt, Managing Director of Skillfair, said: ‘A high proportion of our membership is made up of business consultants, coaches and management consultants who regularly advise businesses on key issues to assist with growth and development'.

'Feedback from this survey indicates that what new and growing businesses need most of all is a more specialist advice service tailored to sector requirements and individual business needs'.

The government recently announced its plans to review the Business Link advice service, but no final decision on the future of the service has yet been reached. In a letter to Small Business Minister Mark Prisk, Skillfair MD Gill Hunt proposed that the government draws on existing experienced, professional business advisors to offer a more specialist service to businesses, according to their needs, size and sector focus.