We investigate the influence of gender, ethnicity, and education in the use of external advice and finance by UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A conceptual model of 'discouraged advisees' was developed as a framework for analysis of the results of a telephone survey of 400 SMEs. We found an association between the use of external advice and the ability to raise bank finance. Furthermore, both men and black and minority ethnic (BME) participants were more likely to use family and friends for advice, whilst women were twice as likely as men to use Business Link. BME business owners were discouraged from using less 'trusted' sources, such as Business Link, possibly believing them insufficiently tailored or that they would provide inappropriate advice. Therefore, the findings provide support for our conceptual model of discouraged advisees and have implications for the provision of advice for business owners from BME communities.