Evaluation of the Cavendish Enterprise ‘Business Boost’ project

Cavendish Enterprise's Business Boost trial project involved providing young small firms - typically micro-businesses - with a treatment involving a series of workshops designed to enhance productivity. This was provided largely as a top-up to an advice and mentoring programme called 'Start and Grow'. The project was part of the government's Business Basics Programme which has the core aim of identifying cost effective, yet productivity enhancing, programmes of business support for SMEs which can be run at scale throughout the country. The programme evaluation was conducted on behalf of the consortium by the Enterprise Research Centre between January 2019 and March 2020. The evaluation used a Randomised Controlled Trial approach. This is generally regarded as the most reliable methodology for determining causality and accessing the impacts of an intervention. It involved analysis of three groups of firms: a Treatment group of 150 firms, a Control group of 150 firms, and a Comparison group also of 150 firms. The evaluation design recognised that six months after the treatment there are going to be few if any observable changes in business performance. The focus of the analysis is therefore more on attitudinal and behavioural changes with research questions relating to productivity enhancing tools, routines and behaviours.