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Aw, Small Business Saturday: Black Friday’s friendly, less-violent sibling. Chances are, you’ve heard of it. But are you making the most of Small Business Saturday? If you aren’t, you are seriously missing out.
We’re not just talking about your marketing, sales, and customer service departments, either. For small business leaders looking to improve the employee experience strategically, this should be a mark-the-calendar-and-count-down-the-days kind of day for everybody in the organization.
With this in mind, here are four reasons you should encourage all of your people to participate in Small Business Saturday at least in some way.
It Builds Community
Small Business Saturday is a perfect opportunity for small businesses to connect and collaborate with other small businesses. In years past, small businesses have united to work together to make the day bigger and better, and you can do the same. For example, if you’re a retail shop, you can encourage other local shops to get involved to generate more foot traffic.
Even if you’re not in retail, you likely have many connections in the small business world. By promoting others’ efforts on Small Business Saturday, and working together with them, you can use the day as an opportunity to build a valuable network of like-minded people and organizations. As the saying goes, sometimes “it’s not what you know, but who you know” in business.
Internally, this holiday is a chance to celebrate the value of small businesses. One way leaders can build excitement and community within their own small business is to share their history. Whether you discuss your founding often or not (hopefully you do), this is a perfect time to remind your people where their organization came from and explain where they fit in the big picture. With the increased appreciation for your organization that comes from telling these stories, you’re more likely to engage and retain your people.
It Grows Your Business
Last year, 112 million people participated in Small Business Saturday, and among those who did, 81 percent reported encouraging friends or family to join in. All of that action equated to $15.4 Billion in sales. This year, it’s reasonable to expect more. So yes, there’s an opportunity to pad your company pockets this year.
But it goes far beyond that. Taking part in a cause like this helps build your brand and establish your organization as a staple in your community for the long run. So, rather than just focusing on 2017 sales, this is an opportunity to build towards 2018 (or even 2028 for that matter). No other event is more specifically qualified to expose your business to new consumers in such a positive way as Small Business Saturday.
And here’s the thing: No matter what your business model or what you have going on right now, there’s no excuse to skip out on Small Business Saturday. For starters, American Express—the founders of the holiday—provides marketing materials for businesses. It’s a matter of minutes before you can build a whole marketing program from scratch. So, no matter who your target audience is, you can easily make preparations to market to them.
It’s the Right Thing to Do
There’s a reason you can find a quote from just about every politician contending that small businesses are the “backbone” or the “lifeblood” of America. It’s because 1) they are and 2) virtually nobody would dispute it! Small businesses represent 99 percent of all employers in the U.S. As a small business leader, you understand this more than most.
This is why it’s important to take the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” seriously, and then act on it. By helping to promote not just small businesses, but the idea of small businesses, you’re embracing ideals that shape our society. You’re putting a foot down and declaring your organization an earnest champion of the small business.
On a lighter note, you and your people will probably feel pretty great about yourselves as you take part in Small Business Saturday. It’s a far more meaningful, more impactful version of the feeling you get when you buy lemonade from those cute neighbor kids down the street. Like many business leaders, you’re probably in constant pursuit of building a company culture of caring. This is a great opportunity to do just that.
Small Business Saturday is a ready-made excuse to have fun in the workplace. By encouraging your people to take part in the holiday, you’re also giving them an excuse to interact with the community in fun ways.
Don’t shy away from turning the day into an event. Announce to the whole organization that you’re going to be a part of it, and give them incentives to join in on the fun. For example, you can make a game of it and offer prizes (e.g., provide gift cards to the person who visits the most participating shops or to whoever posts the best picture of their experience with Small Business Saturday).
By creating worthwhile experiences on Small Business Saturday this year, you can create an enjoyable tradition for years to come. Then, next autumn, as Thanksgiving approaches, your people won’t just be thinking about camping out at Walmart on Black Friday. Rather, they’ll be planning—professionally and personally—for another fun Small Business Saturday, where they’ll contribute to rising tides wherever they go.