10 Big Ways to Shine for National Small Business Week (and 5 Things to Avoid)

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Small business is big business. More than half of all Americans either own a small business or work for one, and two out of three new American jobs are small-business jobs. National Small Business Week is a yearly event, one too few businesses take advantage of.

For all the things Americans disagree about, small business is one they all support: According to Pew Research Center, 86% of Americans were reported to have a favorable opinion about small businesses in February (up from 80% in October of 2022).

With big-time government support and the favor of almost every American, you should be taking advantage of National Small Business Week.

Related: One Founder’s Super-Sized Side Hustle Is Helping Small Businesses — and It’s On Track to Generate More Than $50 Million This Year

What to do

National Small Business Week is a great opportunity to remind customers, prospects and your community that you’re in business, that you’re an important part of the American economy and that you’re an important part of the community. Through a few basic activities, you can leverage your community’s predisposition to favor you. If you do it right, you’ll find yourself with a few extra dollars in your pocket. You’ll strengthen ties with current customers and connect with potential customers.

Keep these six basic goals in mind as you plan.

  1. Create awareness. Do something that tells everyone that you’re a small business in the community.
  2. Thank your customers. Do something that shows your customers you appreciate their business.
  3. Tell your story. Explain who you are, what your business is and how you connect with customers and the community.
  4. Team up with other small businesses. Displaying a “we’re-all-in-it-together” front to the community adds good feelings and keeps shoppers and customers in the neighborhood. This strategy is ideal when your business complements another (for instance, a home painting business and a landscaper, or a dogwalker and a veterinary clinic).
  5. Network. Building a relationship with others gets you mentioned and brings customers to your store, your phone and your website.
  6. Do business with other small businesses. As often as you can, do business with someone whose business will grow as yours does.

Related: I’ve Served Small Businesses for More Than 10 Years — Here Are 3 Investments to Consider That Will Help You Succeed

10 specific things to do to shine during National Small Business Week

But what should you do? Here are some suggestions, but don’t limit yourself to these alone. The more creative you are, the more successful you should be.

  1. Email customers to tell them you’re making a big deal of National Small Business Week. Just tell your email list you’re participating and what you’re doing. Consider an email marketing platform if you haven’t before. Many start with a free trial option; this email is a great opportunity to test them out. (And if you don’t have an email list: make one!)
  2. Make a local promotion. Remind people that your business is part of their community. What you do will depend on your business, but some ideas can include discounts, buy-one-get-one-free, a free sample or trial service or a giveaway item for business conducted during the week. Announce it by email, a sign in your window or buy an ad in your local newspaper or community web page. Then track how well it works by comparing sales or web page codes. A document management system (DMS) helps handle the tracking by scanning all your receipts and invoices and assigning them to this promotion.
  3. Unpaid local media. Talk to your local media about doing a story on National Small Business Week and mention you’re participating. They may wind up mentioning you in their story or even doing a remote from your venue if you’ve got a brick-and-mortar location. Most local radio and tv stations have a news hotline or tip line on their website. Local websites often want stories.
  4. Paid local media. Use local newspaper ads, flyers, posters and billboards or targeted digital ads.
  5. Education. Find a way to share what you know with prospects and customers. If you run a landscaping business, hold a class on how to select plants. If you’re a web designer, hold a class on setting up a business website. Promote it in your email or in any of the ways mentioned above.
  6. Be social. Mention your participation on your Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, Pinterest or YouTube (if you have a channel). Talk about yourself and why you’re in business. Be personable. Ask for your viewers to share your National Small Business Week post or video. Or create a hashtag they can use to be creative.
  7. Special hours. Be open all week, or maybe even expand your hours.
  8. Party. Bring customers where you can have fun with them and not (necessarily) talk business.
  9. Branded items. A T-shirt, a button, a cap. You can wear it. Your employees can wear it. Your customers can wear it. Your name, your website, and “National Small Business Week ’24.”
  10. Reach out. A quick phone call or email to say that National Small Business Week reminded you how much you appreciate their business.

Related: Don’t Let Inflation Kill Your Small Business. Here’s How to Secure More Funding and Give Yourself a Financial Cushion.

5 specific things NOT to do to during National Small Business Week (or else)

The old adage that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” isn’t 100% true.

  1. Don’t be political. Unless you’re the local chapter of a political party, neutrality is best.
  2. Don’t lie. If you said you’d give 25% off, give 25% off.
  3. Don’t annoy. Send one or two emails, not 20.
  4. Don’t intrude. Your chances to make a sale or even a connection plummet when you get in someone’s way.
  5. Don’t insult. You can rarely insult someone and still have them do business with you.

Don’t forget to join in and succeed

Sign up for and attend the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit. The U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE offer educational webinars, exhibit booths, free business resources, peer-to-peer networking rooms and business advice from SCORE mentors online for no cost. All you need to do is register.

This year’s National Small Business Week occurs just as there are signs that the economy is on the rise, with inflation declining, GDP rising more than predicted and job strength expected to continue. This is a great chance to ride the wave and generate more revenue. Don’t miss it!

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