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Triggering Change: Trigger events and their role in encouraging business leaders to seek business support

Our Trigger Events report is the first time that the moments SMEs are more receptive to seeking advice and support have been explored and thought about in detail.

There are countless moments in the lifecycle of a small- or medium-sized business when leaders may be more receptive to seeking advice and support. This report is the first time that these "trigger events" have been explored and thought about in detail.

This paper sets out the types of trigger events that businesses are most likely to encounter and suggests four broad categories based on when leaders are likely to experience them:

  1. Ambition – triggers created by the internal growth ambition of the business leader or a growth mindset

  2. Competition – triggers caused by competitive pressures around the business

  3. Lifecycle – triggers naturally occurring as part of the day-to-day process of running a business

  4. External – unforeseen and unexpected triggers caused by external events

Trigger events across these categories can result in changes to the business operations of small- and medium-sized businesses. Moreover, in recent years, seismic external events like Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in a domino effect of smaller triggers impacting businesses in a variety of ways.

In addition to exploring the types of trigger events experienced by businesses, we look at the type of behaviours and business changes that are likely to be initiated as a result. Changes are likely to take place in the areas of:

  • Training, development and HR

  • Capital investment

  • Technology adoption

  • Sales and marketing

  • Leadership and management

This paper brings together the existing literature on triggers with new research from small- and medium-sized businesses on the most significant events and changes that ensue.

By recognising the types of events that act as a catalyst for change, business support organisations can unlock opportunities to engage businesses as they respond to trigger events, offering help when they need it most. Furthermore, understanding how business leaders wish to receive that support and acknowledging learning preferences can improve the quality of support available.


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