The purpose of this paper is to examine small business owners’ informal advice-seeking from peers, with a focus on the opportunities afforded by the internet for owners to acquire assistance from other owner-managers outside their local community.
Over 600 owner-managers in a rural US state were surveyed about their advice-seeking during the previous year from peers in the same community, from non-local peers they had met in person, and from peers known only online. Mixed effects logistic regression analysis was used to test both main effects of business and owner characteristics on advice-seeking and interactions with type/location of peer advisors.
Most owners had received advice from peers, and one-third had received advice online from a peer whom they had never met in person. Business performance was not associated with overall use of peer advice, but did interact significantly with source; the use of online-only advisors was associated with business growth, suggesting the possible benefit of weak ties. Over two-thirds of respondents reported having used social media and/or online forums to access advice or support from other owners (both those met in person and those not), with women and younger owners more likely to rely on such tools.
This study shows that entrepreneurial research needs to consider peer advisors beyond local networks as potential resources for small business owners. While previous research has examined entrepreneurs’ use of social media for marketing, this study shows its utility for accessing advice.
Kuhn, K., Galloway, T. and Collins-Williams, M. (2016), "Near, far, and online: small business owners’ advice-seeking from peers", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 189-206. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-03-2015-0037Download as .RIS
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