The clock is ticking for the UK’s first ever Small Business Saturday, set to take place this weekend on December 7th, encouraging people to shop locally and show their support for the independent firms in their area. Small shops, local trades people, corner restaurants and coffee shops will all be taking part in the event to highlight what makes them unique and gives them the edge on their bigger rivals. And if you are one of the many thousands of businesses expected to be a part of the day, we at Boost Capital urge you to tell the world about your enterprise this Thursday, as part of the Small Business Saturday Twitterthon in the run-up to the day itself.
Thousands of people are already following the @SmallBizSatUK Twitter feed and we hope to see you joining the conversation there and @BoostCapitalUK on December 5th to tell us what you’re planning to do this Saturday, as well as giving us a better idea of how your business works and what matters to you. Specifically, we want to know:
- What is the single biggest challenge to the growth of your business today?
- How important do you think new technology is to your business growth?
- How did you get the funding to get your business off the ground in the first place?
Tweet @BoostCapitalUK with your views on these topics this Thursday (don’t forget to add #SmallBizSatUK and #BoostYourBiz) to give us all a sense of the barriers – and potential boosts – to business growth, as well as letting us all know what you hope to get from the Small Business Saturday event itself. And if you’re also a customer of small businesses in your area, then use this opportunity to tweet information about your local High Street heroes to spread the word about their efforts and hard work.
Twitter is the reason that Small Business Saturday is taking place in Britain at all. The event has been spearheaded by Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, who was alerted to the original version in the US when he was checking his Twitter feed one day. He saw various well-known figures he follows on the micro-blogging site using the hashtag #SmallBizSat and realised the storm of publicity for local enterprises being created in the States. There and then, Umunna immediately decided to recreate the initiative in the UK and the December 7th date was set.
The American Small Business Saturday has been running since 2010 and, as we’ve highlighted on our blog in the past, there is clear evidence that it makes a material difference to the small firms that participate. Last year, it generated sales of £3.5 billion in the US, about eight out of ten of the businesses involved reported increased brand awareness, and 45 per cent won new customers, according to MarketingProfs. The American event for 2013 took place last weekend, timed to coincide with the busiest period in the US shopping calendar, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which is also the day after Black Friday when stores kick off major sales, and is just ahead of Cyber Monday, which encourages Americans to shop for goods online. The UK has no equivalent sales bonanza in its retail year, but the British version of Small Business Saturday has been scheduled to take place just as minds are turning to Christmas shopping. And it’s hoped that thousands of local firms will benefit in the longer term from the one-day promotional push, as people’s eyes are opened to the great small enterprises that are being run on their own doorsteps.
The British Small Business Saturday may have been Umunna’s brainchild, but it has cross-party support. And there has been other evidence of a greater political push to help smaller firms of late, including the launch of the Business is Great online hub, which offers small companies information, advice and access to inspirational stories. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills also announced recently the Sector Mentoring Challenge Fund, which offers larger businesses match-funding up to £150,000 to mentor SMEs to help them grow.
All of this good will and support for small businesses is genuine reason to celebrate and to shout the achievements of smaller firms loudly from the rooftops. So, if you’re a business owner, take part in Thursday’s Twitterthon to tell us how your company was founded, how it’s faring today, and your plans for its future. Flag up what you have planned for Small Business Saturday and how you hope it will help you and your firm. We need your help to build up a head of steam in the run-up to the big day itself to ensure that as many people as possible think small and local first. Get tweeting on @BoostCapitalUK on December 5th using the hashtag #BoostYourBiz and #SmallBizSatUK to show everyone just how important Britain’s SMEs really are!