Accessing the skills of expert consultants is proving to be pricey for small and medium sized businesses in the UK new research has revealed.
The study, commissioned by Zeqr found that nearly half (49 per cent) of SMEs avoid hiring consultants altogether because of over inflated costs. Two in five small businesses asked said they found fixed fees to be inefficient and that they left them feeling dissatisfied with the service they received.
24 per cent claimed the advice they paid for was too complicated, 16 per cent said they received an unprofessional service and 16 per cent said they were put off by long term contracts which were demanded even for short term requirements.
The research appears to back up concerns about a skills shortage amongst SMEs with 50 per cent of businesses saying they lack essential digital skills needed to grow their firms. Software development, website building, SEO and social media were all areas to be found lacking. Despite this, an estimated one million SMEs were of the opinion that external consultants were a waste of money. More than a third were sceptical about their level of expertise.
The findings reveal that businesses in the North East spend £29,900 on expert fees. That’s over double that spent by small businesses in London (£12,600).
So, what were the top five sectors sought after for advice?
Accountancy (£9.1 billion)
Insurance (£5.3 billion)
IT (4.1 billion)
Payroll and pensions (£3.3 billion)
Website building (£3.1 billion)
Daniel Hedlund, co-founder of Zeqr, said:
“Our new research shows that access to experts is a postcode lottery. Moreover, Northern business owners in particular face huge financial investment to access this expertise. With businesses often relying on an existing or small pool of suppliers, this often results in less than satisfactory outcome that don’t help their bottom line.”