The rather depressing report which shows fewer deals actually happen than are traditionally reported is worth closer reflection.

The underlying message is that sellers don't prepare properly when they sell. Not because they are incompetent but because they haven't got the right advisers or don't know how to get the right advisers.

I have attended two event in the last week where this has been borne out.

First I attended the excellent DIT and Leeds Enterprise Partnership-supported Export Exchange launch event. This demonstrated that SMEs in particular don't know who to contact to support export opportunities. The worry of the unknown was outweighing the opportunity costs out there.

Secondly I attended an event where I spoke to representatives of an SME who had recently missed out on a deal. It was clear that they had not got the right advice by asking their local advisers.

There is a massive knowledge gap for SMEs in knowing how to access the right advice for strategic decisions. Partly they are worried they will be fleeced by advisers, partly it is the emotional issues highlighted in the report around 'letting go' and partly it is the lack of empathy shown by advisers when they meet SMEs.

SMEs need to think more strategically  about exits. Identify likely buyers; prepare business plans and execute strategies to focus on the likely exit.

Why this skill is missing shows a weakness in the adviser community which is too focused on shorter term fees than longer term strategic trusted adviser positions.