This paper begins by considering recent UK policies to stimulate demand for learning and development in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with particular emphasis on the importance now given to informal learning and employer-led development, and then provides a framework of possible SME 'words' with respect to learning and the provision of development activities. Many managers of SMEs are more concerned about survival rather than growth. There are consistent findings that indicate managers in SMEs do not respond favourably to offers of human resources development (HRD) interventions and government policy now recognizes the value of informal learning and demand-led intervention. A social constructionist approach is suggested to consider engaging and working with SME managers. A framework of SME 'worlds' is considered before the case of one SME is examined. Using data from three different sources, the various positionings are considered. The case shows how from an apparently antagonistic view of external training, the manager was prepared to allow a coach/mentor to work with him towards his vision for expansion and growth. Conclusions are provided concerning engagement and stretch with SMEs, policy and future funding for HRD and the definition of skills development.