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Meet the Trailblazers

The latest edition of Santander’s ground-breaking research identifies more of the key characteristics that give Britain’s high-growth companies an edge on the competition. Our bi-annual survey of more than 1,000 businesses provides a regularly updated overview of what it takes to create and sustain rapid growth in today’s tough marketplace.


Summer 2019 update

The second edition of our Trailblazers research once again highlights the significant gap between the outlook and approach of the UK’s most dynamic businesses, and those that are lagging behind.

More confident and getting more out of their people

Trailblazers are more than twice as confident about the year ahead than their lower-growth businesses (89% v41%).

Our latest update explores how high-growth companies are more likely to regard investing in people as a key driver of their growth.

Download the July 2019 report for the full story.

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What it means to be a Trailblazer

Ready for growth

Trailblazers are always ready for the next stage of their growth journey, focused on potential opportunities even when faced with threats.
Above all, this is a question of attitude. Fast-growing companies have the confidence to seize the initiative, making their own luck by concentrating on what they can control without being blown off course by the fear of external threats. 

The Trailblazers research reveals that 74% of high-growth companies already trade internationally or plan to do so in the coming 12 months,...


41% of high-growth businesses plan to increase their international sales over the next 12 months compared to just 27% of lower-growth companies.


89% of high-growth companies feel confident about the next 12 months, against 41% of lower-growth businesses.

Fit for business

Trailblazers are professionally managed businesses run by leaders who have the ability to articulate a clear vision for success. Their engaged and inspired employees understand how to execute this vision, with effective and efficient processes for translating strategic thinking into on-the-ground action.

High-growth companies understand the power of strong leadership. They are led by management teams which have a clear vision for success and a...


78% of high-growth businesses believe they are very good or good at strategic vision versus 56% of lower-growth companies.


64% of high-growth businesses believe they are good at executing their strategy versus 49% of lower-growth companies.

Investing for tomorrow

in people as well as digital transformation

Trailblazers share a deep-seated commitment to investing in the future of their businesses – in both people and digital transformation - to underpin future growth.
They understand their talent is their greatest asset and see innovation as the key to unlocking competitive edge.

A strong, ongoing commitment to investment in technological innovation as well as research and development is a crucial factor that clearly sets...

Britain’s high-growth companies display a clear understanding of the value their people can add to their businesses. As a result, they are far...


63% of high-growth businesses have invested more or much more in staff training and development over the past three years, compared with 30% of lower-growth companies.


53% say they have consistently increased their investment in R&D and innovation over the past three years in comparison with 28% of lower-growth companies. This is likely to be linked to the increased likelihood of high-growth companies tracking returns on investment.

Accelerating rapidly

Trailblazers constantly seek out ambitious new opportunities for securing additional growth from new markets and ventures.
They are open to new partnerships, collaborating with organisations or businesses to drive growth. And nearly nine times as many high-growth businesses compared to low-growth ones are ‘very confident’ about their future.

Some 56% of the Trailblazers expect their sales to grow by at least 20% over the next 12 months (a further 23% predict growth of 10...


31% of high-growth businesses have formed some form of internal alliance with another business in the past three years, compared to only 19% of lower-growth firms.


68% agree their leadership makes good use of non-execs and external advice versus 39% of lower-growth companies.

About the Trailblazers

About the Trailblazers

Our research is based on a survey of over 1,000 businesses conducted by YouGov during May 2019. From this sample, we identified a group representing 14% of the total cohort: these are high-growth companies that have grown their revenues by at least 20% over the past 12 months and/or which expect to do so over the coming year.
We compared the views of these Trailblazers to those of lower-growth businesses, defined as those currently growing at a rate of less than 10% a year – these companies made up 62% of respondents.

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