Meet the Trailblazers

Santander’s ground-breaking research identifies the four characteristics that give Britain’s high-growth companies an edge on the competition. Our survey of over 1,000 businesses highlights what it takes to create and sustain rapid growth in today’s tough marketplace.

Explore the 4 crucial characteristics that set the Trailblazers apart.

The UK’s fastest-growing businesses are spread across the country and operate in many different sectors.
But while they may be engaged in completely different activities, pursuing hugely varied opportunities and confronting different challenges, they have much in common.
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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,...


50% of high-growth businesses say they plan to increase their international sales over the next 12 months compared to just 30% of lower-growth companies.


30% are concerned about the impact of Brexit on their growth, compared to 55% of lower-growth companies.

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 60% of lower-growth companies.


70% of high-growth businesses believe they are good at executing their strategy versus 52% 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...


70% of high-growth businesses have invested more or much more in staff training and development over the past three years, compared with 40% of lower-growth companies.


37% strongly agree technology investment is a key differentiator for their business, compared to just 9% of lower-growth companies.

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...


44% of high-growth businesses are very confident about the next 12 months versus only 5% of lower-growth companies.


60% agree their leadership makes good use of non-execs and external advice versus 41% 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 November and December 2018. From this sample, we identified a group representing 12% 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. Businesses lagging behind the Trailblazers but still achieving strong growth, of 10-19% a year, were excluded from this report. These companies accounted for 23% of the sample.

Global Web Index

James Franks, Finance Director


We can’t wait and won’t wait for Brexit to happen to act. We’ve expanded internationally to counter the political and economic risk that comes from Brexit by opening an office in the US and bringing forward the opening of an office in the EU.
We also have plans to open an office in APAC in the near future. For this reason we see Brexit as an opportunity rather than a threat.


Michael Nabarro, CEO and Co-Founder


Scaling a company only happens by finding and nurturing great people. As a tech company, our staff already have sophisticated technological skills.
What’s more important is coaching them in how to collaborate, give feedback, and work effectively in teams. By giving them these skills, we are able to challenge each other and work to each other’s strengths.


Nathan Bowles, CEO

Nowadays, customers expect simple solutions and by harnessing technology and data, we constantly strive to meet those demands.
Now 50% of our taxi bookings are automated – either through our app or voice recognition software.

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