If you ask any small business owner about their favorite day of the year, you’ll probably hear “summer,” “the holidays,” or “the last time I was able to take a vacation.” But it turns out, the best time of the year for small business owners isn’t just one day or a single weekend. It’s an entire week dedicated just to them: National Small Business Week.
Since 1963, National Small Business Week has been celebrated by small business owners and entrepreneurs across the U.S. It’s an opportunity to recognize both the impact of small businesses on their local communities and the economy as a whole. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year and are responsible for more than 50 percent of all U.S. sales. And while many corporations are downsizing, American small businesses are actually thriving, and have been increasing by 49 percent since 1982.
This year, National Small Business Week starts on April 30th and ends May 6th. As a small business owner, it’s a chance to not only celebrate surviving tax season but to capitalize on the nationwide momentum and free publicity by the SBA and greater small business community. With a few extra steps, these seven days can make a lasting impact on your bottom line and your own skills as a small business owner.
Take advantage of the full week
What do your sales look like during a holiday weekend? Now, imagine that holiday weekend included five additional days of specials, increased foot traffic, more community awareness, and trending social media chatter. That’s National Small Business Week—an extra five full days to promote your business beyond the usual holiday weekend. Whether it’s an ongoing sale or a daily special, you can announce a full itinerary of deals and events in advance or keep customers guessing with a new experience each day.
Own a restaurant or cafe? Sell a one-time-only entree, drink, or dessert each day of the week. Make it fun and memorable (unicorn frappuccino, anyone?) and encourage customers to come back to try them all. Or, include a punch card in every purchase that rewards customers with a surprise discount or gift at the end of the week if they stop in your store all seven days.
Leverage official hashtags for greater social media reach
The official National Small Business Week hashtag for 2017 is #SmallBusinessWeek. Include #SmallBusinessWeek, #SmallBiz, and @SBAgov in your social media campaigns for the week. Also, be sure to check if there are any local hashtags for your area’s small business community. You can even download free banners for your social media profiles or create your own themed social media graphics.
For more engagement, ask your followers to share your National Small Business posts once per day to enter a drawing for a free giveaway. By joining the country-wide #SmallBusinessWeek conversation on multiple channels (and multiple feeds, thanks to your customers), you’ll likely see a nice bump in your social media impressions for the week.
Make it personal
“It’s just business” has never been less true. In today’s world, business is personal. Time Warner Cable’s Small Business Technology Impact Study found that while consumers expect businesses to have an online presence, they also expect to find “a personalized story about the owner or a compelling history of the company.” In fact, 93 percent of consumers say that knowing the owner helped attract and retain them as customers.
What does that mean for National Small Business Week? It means you already have a reason to connect with customers and show them what makes your small business special: you. Share a chapter of your journey to becoming a small business owner each day on social media through Snapchat, a blog post, or Instagram and invite your customers to follow along.
Consider posting different things you’ve learned about owning a small business throughout the week or share a daily new business tip with the option to subscribe to your newsletter to learn more. Take questions from followers and answer them in a live Q&A on Facebook. Whichever you choose, engaging with your customers on a personal level for a week (and beyond) is a small effort that comes with big rewards.
Partner with other small business owners in your area
Small businesses are as unique as the people that built them. As a small business owner, it’s likely that you had a role model or someone that inspired you to take the leap. That’s the power of small businesses: they often make a lasting impact on their customers and local community. Compared to national chains, small retail businesses return over half of all revenue to their local economies. Independent restaurants return even more, giving back almost 80 percent. Their success impacts more than their own bottom line. When small businesses do well, everyone benefits.
Use National Small Business Week as a chance to partner with other small business owners near you. It could be the shop next door, or the brewery you deliver pizza orders to every weekend. Give customers a special percentage off if they show a receipt from another local store during the week. Offer free samples of each other’s products. Find your local chapter of the Rising Tide Society. And if your community doesn’t have one, there’s no better time to start.
National Small Business Week is a great opportunity to get your customers involved in your business, especially when you’re working toward a shared goal. Running a small business can take it all—your time, your energy, your savings, and your dreams. But incredibly enough, small businesses still find a way to give even more, with 42 percent giving up to $1,000 to charity each year.
Host an event where a percentage of the sales go to charity or put part of all your sales for the week towards microloans for small business owners around the world. National Small Business Week won’t just be a reason for customers to support you, but a way for them to be a part of something bigger. The more they shop, the more you’ll give back together.
Host a National Small Business Week event
Find out if your local Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring any National Small Business Week events, then offer to host one in exchange for ad space. If there aren’t any events planned in your city, throw a happy hour or mixer where customers can shop and enjoy free snacks and drinks before closing.
You can still host a National Small Business Week event even if your space is your home office or your business is online. Just email invites to your subscriber list and notify customers on social media to sign up for an exclusive sale during set “event” hours. If you’re looking to expand your small business network from home, host a live chat on Twitter where small business owners can discuss different topics under the same hashtag. If you use Slack, create an owner-only Slack channel for an evening where small business owners can chat about their experiences and share advice, no matter where they’re located.
Say “thank you” to your customers and employees
National Small Business Week isn’t just about a single small business. It’s also about the people who help keep the lights on every day, literally and figuratively. Give loyal customers a special discount for supporting you, or include a special gift if they make a purchase during the week. It could be free samples, a coupon, a free dessert, or just a personal note thanking them for shopping local.
Already thanked your customers? Now show your appreciation to your employees. Order in lunch for everyone on staff, throw a party or take a moment to tell each one individually the impact they’ve made on your business. Even better, offer rewards as a motivation for hitting higher sales goals during the week. At the end, you can enjoy your hard work (and record-breaking sales) together.
Ready to kick off National Small Business Week?
Since National Small Business Week only happens once a year, there can be a lot of pressure to get it right. Just remember: you don’t have to try everything. Instead, use the week as an opportunity to experiment with something new. Share a little bit of your journey. Try a different social media platform. Connect with your customers and local small business community in a more meaningful way. Most importantly? Celebrate. You’re running a small business! That’s something to be proud of—every week of the year.How to Make National Small Business Week Your Biggest Week Yet Nicole Ward