Support organisation Business Link Staffordshire is claiming a top performance for 2004-05.
In the 12 months to March, it assisted 17,224 local businesses, a record for the organisation.
The figure is 20 per cent ahead of target and 65 per cent higher than the number of firms helped the previous year.
More than 900 of the businesses received intensive assistance from a Business Link adviser, a process which involves diagnosing how a business can be improved and brokering in the most appropriate specialist support.
Business Link Staffordshire has also registered high customer satisfaction levels, with 92 per cent fairly or very satisfied, according to independent research.
It provided assistance to more than three thousand people thinking about becoming their own boss, 58 per cent higher than projected.
In addition 1,100 start-up businesses received advice and support in their first year of trading.
Programmes to provide targeted assistance for women and members of ethnic communities to establish their own businesses also performed strongly.
One hundred and seventy nine women-owned businesses were set up with assistance from Business Link Staffordshire, 19 per cent ahead of target. Thirty three were set up by members of ethnic communities.
International trade services, which are provided through the Chambers of Commerce, were in high demand.
The number of companies taking part in the Passport to Export programme exceeded target by 37 per cent, with the number exporting for the first time was ahead by four per cent. Workforce development initiatives gathered pace, with 365 businesses undertaking training needs analysis as a springboard to putting staff development programmes in place.
More than 300 managers took part in development programmes, 70 businesses made a commitment to achieving the Investors in People standard, and 47 actually achieved the standard.
Work on the regional diversification programme, led by Advantage West Midlands and delivered in the county through Business Link Staffordshire, demonstrated a high level of success during the year, with the number of firms benefiting from support for change programmes, 250 per cent above target.
Over the coming 12 months, the organisation expects activity levels on this and other specialist programmes to escalate.