(Editor’s note: Our continued thanks to Steve King of Emergent Research for allowing us to share his insight. A version of this article appeared on his blog, SmallBizLabs.com. The opinions expressed are his.)

Recently, Barlow Research Associates, a firm that works with banks to help them better understand the needs of small businesses, issued the findings of a survey that compared the sources mentioned by small business owners regarding who they turn to when seeking advice.

infographic - where do small business owners go for advice

As you can see from the accompanying chart, accountants were mentioned by nearly 55% of the survey participants followed closely by the 50% who mentioned they turn to other small business owners.

Especially fascinating is that over 15% of the participants mentioned “Google.” Surveys have traditionally revealed small business owners turn to “the internet” for advice but kudos to Google for developing their brand to the point where people think of turning to Google for advice. Why is that significant? Because Google, itself, doesn’t provide advice; Google points to places on the internet where people can get advice.

The Influence of Accountants

The findings of Barlow’s research confirm what Emergent Research’s 2013 study shared in the Intuit Future of Accountancy report. In it, we wrote that accountants will increasingly:

“… take on new roles as consultants and advisors, providing performance management, decision support, IT advice and similar services, with less emphasis on nuts-and-bolts functions such as computation and tax preparation.”

Barlow’s research shows that accountants are already well positioned as trusted advisors, making this shift easier.

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