small business week

We’re right in the middle of National Small Business Week, which is themed “Dream Big, Start Small.” The week began in 1963 as a way to recognize and encourage the efforts of small business owners. It has evolved to include events and workshops across the nation, led by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The events are a good way to acknowledge those who have taken the leap of owning a business, and there are many out there to applaud. According to a study by the University of Phoenix School of Business, 56 percent of American voters have either a friend or family member who owns or once owned a small business. And the study reports that 14 percent own a business.

Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, describes the week this way: “… We recommit ourselves to those fearless entrepreneurs who plan well, work hard, and dream big. Every business starts small. Many of today’s most recognized brands were once small businesses until they found an SBA counselor, lender or investor. I came to this country as a 5-year old immigrant who didn’t speak a word of English. Today, I serve in the cabinet of the President of the United States. My story is possible only because of America’s promise and its entrepreneurial spirit. I’m proud to lead an incredibly talented team assembled from across the country ready to serve you.”

Here’s a look at what National Small Business Week brings. For more, go to sba.gov/nsbw. On Twitter: hashtag #DreamSmallBiz.

Words From the White House

President Barack Obama weighed in on the week with an April 29 proclamation. Here are a few of his notable remarks:

“Our Nation does best when we help our startups and small businesses expand into new markets and offer goods and services to more people. Ninety-eight percent of the American companies that export are small and medium-sized businesses, but less than 5 percent of our country’s small businesses export. In our 21st-century economy, it is imperative that we break down the trade barriers that too often hold small businesses back from extending their reach to those abroad to sell more goods made in the United States. Last year, we reached an agreement with 11 other nations that allows us to write the rules of our global economy and gives more of our people the fair shot at success they deserve.

“ … Our Nation’s small businesses play a critical role in generating economic prosperity, and the effort poured into them by ordinary citizens across our country reflects the hard work and determination inherent to who we are as a people. This week, we renew our support for these engines of growth and recognize their incredible contributions to our country.”

SBA Events

May 4: Colorado Small Business Week awards ceremony from the History of Colorado Center. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Contreras-Sweet honor small business owners in the Colorado area.

May 5: Armchair discussion at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. This features Contreras-Sweet and others discussing “key business topics ranging from access to capital, effective marketing, business growth and more.” The guests include Eli Crane of Bottle Breacher and Angela Cody-Rouget of Major Mom. Both are former participants of ABC’s startup show Shark Tank.

May 6: Live from San Jose at San Jose City Hall. This event features Contreras-Sweet and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo discussing “business trends and resources to help you start and grow a business.”

Webinars

An assortment of small business webinars hosted by the SBA happen this week. According to Kim Lachance Shandrow in a story for Entrepreneur.com, the topics include “demystifying voluntary employee benefits; recent payment technology innovations; cloud, mobile and social apps for growing your business; business-loan-application best practices and how to use Intuit Quickbooks.”

Facebook events

Small business owners in Texas may be interested in attending Facebook’s “Boost Your Business” networking events around the state. As Shandrow explains, “Each offers a day of connecting with local community and small-business leaders and fellow entrepreneurs and business owners. Lots of tips on how to use Facebook and Instagram to amplify your business’ reach will be shared. Breakout sessions will hone in on using both popular social platforms for marketing and for sharing video content.”

Opportunities to Capitalize

Small Business Week doesn’t have to just be something you absorb or witness. It can also be a way to get word out about your business. Here are a few tips from Melissa Lachman, writing for Yodle Insights.

  • Put the SBA logo on the company’s social media efforts, and use proper Twitter hashtags (the SBA recommends #DreamSmallBiz).
  • Offer customers – especially the loyal ones – a discount. “After all, they play a role in helping your small business succeed and they will love the recognition,” Lachman writes.
  • Write an email that explores tips on topics that matter to customers, “or a special thank you note for supporting your business.”
  • If the business owner has a blog, her or she can discuss how much being a small business owner means to them, Lachman says. Posting it to the Web and social media sites can help spread the word.

Engage With Others

Small Business Week also provides the opportunity to reach out for collaboration. Emma Siemasko recommends several ways to do this in a story for Grasshopper.com.

  • Join a business network or the Chamber of Commerce: “Growing a business is all about who you know,” she writes. “You want to become the go-to accountant or architect that everyone recommends. To do it, you have to get involved.”
  • Partner up: Joining forces with another business may open doors to reaching a new audience, according to Siemasko. “… Dream up a way to collaborate. You might co-host an event, co-write an eBook, or do a contest where you give away their products.”
  • Support others: Find other businesses who would seem to be like-minded, and be on their side. “Small businesses share similar struggles,” Siemasko writes. “They lack the resources of big brands and have to get scrappy. Their employees get involved with everything, rather than very specific, niche tasks. Celebrate and support the other small businesses in your neighborhood this week.”