The annual National Small Business Week is April 29 through May 5, and features a variety of educational activities led by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
There’s a lot to acknowledge when it comes to small businesses. Take this whopping statistic from the SBA, which helps to illustrate how essential small businesses are to the country and the economy: There are 29.6 million small businesses in the United States, which make up 99.9 percent of all businesses in the country.
Linda McMahon, head of the SBA, said in an interview with Entrepreneur during last year’s Small Business Week that she aims to make administration more visible: “I think that the Small Business Administration absolutely has an obligation to make more people aware of small business. But in order to do that there has to be greater knowledge of SBA. And one of the things that I want to do, my vision for SBA is to raise that level of awareness all over the country. I think the thing that really makes SBA really grow and be a champion of small business are the resource programs.”
The SBA will be active online and in various cities during Small Business Week. The events and programming include:
Awards: Honors will go to small businesses in many different categories, starting on the evening of April 29. The SBA’s Facebook page will carry live coverage of the awards.
Virtual conference: This online component runs from May 1 to May 3, and registration is free. Webinar titles include:
- “How changing consumer behavior impacts your business.”
- “Creating and sustaining a strong social presence.”
- “Managing your finances in the cloud.”
- “Simple steps to choosing the right financing.”
- “Hug your haters: How to embrace complaints and keep your customers.”
Bus tour: After starting the week with activities in Washington, D.C., McMahon will visit five cities: Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia on May 1; Columbia, South Carolina, and Fayetteville, North Carolina on May 2; and Raleigh, North Carolina on May 3. According to the SBA’s press release, McMahon will meet with small business owners and take part in roundtable discussions during each stop.
Twitter chat: On May 4 at noon (Eastern time), the SBA will join industry experts on Twitter to discuss starting a business. Follow @SBAgov and use #SmallBusinessWeek to participate.
Other businesses are adding to the Small Business Week elements of education and fun as well. Dell, for example, is presenting a two-day event on May 4 and 5 in New York, which will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook. “From our early days in Michael Dell’s dorm room, small business and entrepreneurship have been part of who we are,” the company states.
For small businesses that can’t partake in these events, there are still plenty of ways to take advantage of the attention that goes with Small Business Week. Here are a few ideas.
Tell the business’ story
Customers may have no idea about the blood, sweat and tears it took to get a small business off the ground. Small Business Week can be a perfect time to share that journey and mission online, which can potentially attract new customers and give prospective business owners a dose of inspiration. As Miranda Paquet of marketing firm Constant Contact writes in a story for The Business Journals, “Don’t keep your story a secret.”
“Use your unique point of view as a way to stand out from the competition and get closer to your customers,” Paquet says. “This Small Business Week, take a moment to remind your customers and supporters why you do what you do.”
Collaborate with other small businesses
In the good-vibes spirit of the week, it can be beneficial to reach out to other small business owners. Perhaps there’s a business that is somewhat related — and not a direct competitor — that would be willing to engage in a creative event or joint effort. Creating these connections could lead to other collaborations and benefit both businesses. Liz Alton includes this in a story for Staples’ Small Business Hub.
“Talk with complementary businesses to create a limited-time, joint discount or related promotions,” Alton says. “Businesses that work together can also host an event that incorporates all their physical stores, digital channels and social media accounts. This kind of collaboration with your peers can help you reach new audiences, provide more value to customers and boost your visibility.”
As small businesses are being recognized, it’s smart for owners to acknowledge the support team around them. Hard-working employees deserve recognition on a consistent basis, of course, and Small Business Week provides an additional opportunity. As Emma Siemasko puts it in a story for Grasshopper, “If your business didn’t have humans powering it, things would deteriorate fast.”
“National Small Business Week is a good time to thank your employees,” Siemasko says. “Thank them for their commitment to your business by taking them out to eat, hosting a party, or giving gifts. If you’re on a tight budget, a simple thank you card counts for a lot.”
Sales and giveaways
Another way to capitalize on Small Business Week is to create sales or giveaway opportunities for customers. Clients that are unaware of the week may learn more about it through a special sale. Writing for Salesforce, Deborah Sweeney notes that every customer counts, “and without them, you wouldn’t have a small business to run in the first place.”
“Holding a week-long promotion or buy-one-get-one-free offer is a great way to increase your brand’s exposure and gain some new customers,” Sweeney says. “Offer the discount on one of your most popular products as a means to introduce them to what you have to offer. Make sure you have plenty of customer care representatives available via phone or your social media pages to answer any questions that come up.”
The average customer may not pay close enough attention to recognize the effort that a small business requires, and the positive results that can come from that effort. Though it may not be instinctual for some small business owners to trumpet their own success, sharing positive notes during Small Business Week can help to strengthen their bond with clients. Caron Beesley examines this in a story for Fundbox, including these potential topics to explore:
- “Did you hire a record number of employees in the past year?”
- “Did you get involved in community events or fundraisers?”
- “Did you take a product or solution to market that’s getting a lot of buzz?”
- “Do you have star employees that you think are worth a shout out?”
- “What about your fabulous customers? Are they doing amazing things with your products?”
“The possibilities are endless,” Beesley says. “Now think of channels to tell your stories. It could be as simple as a blog post and some social media promotion, or even a series of blog posts over the course of the week to showcase different achievements, people, or products.”