The UK’s second-ever Small Business Saturday is scheduled for 6 December and aims to cultivate a “shop local” attitude in the build-up to Christmas and beyond. The end goal? To channel foot traffic to the UK’s many, many small businesses and encourage a culture of entrepreneurship that lasts well into 2015.
At its core, Small Business Saturday encourages people to support small businesses while inspiring new businesses and startups through lectures and advice from successful businesses. Despite being a grassroots, non-commercial, non-political campaign, the initiative is heavily backed by the government, whose efforts to support entrepreneurs and SMEs were addressed by Chancellor George Osborne’s 2013 Autumn Statement (which coincided with the launch of Small Business Saturday last year).
“I want the government to do all it can to help them. To get the vacant shops that blight too many town centres to open again, I am introducing a new reoccupation relief that will halve the rates for new occupants…for the next two years every retail premise in England with a rateable value of up to £50,000 will get a discount on their business rates”, said Osborne.
Indeed, Small Business Saturday stems from its original incarnation in the United States, where it is particularly well established, attracting the likes of President Barack Obama, Jessica Alba and Serena Williams, who have either been vociferous tweeters behind the event or attendees in person. The initiative proved so popular in the States (it’s already into its fifth year there) that it was imported across the Atlantic by UK shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna in 2013. Since then, the initiative has maintained its sole mandate to support, inspire and promote small businesses on the first Saturday of December and beyond.
Event organisers say that Small Business Saturday 2013 was a runaway success. According to the event’s official website, 48% of consumers in the UK were aware of the day, while 40% of all local authorities threw their support behind the campaign. Over £460 million was spent in independent shops and small businesses that day (that’s an average of £33 per store per person), while the event was a monumental success on social media, with the hashtag #SmallBizSatUK trending in twitter UK’s top three all day.
2014’s event is set to be even bigger, with the initiative having launched the “Inspire Series”, a progression of free programmes, talks and workshops held in the build-up to Small Business Saturday designed to inform, educate and inspire small businesses, contractors and entrepreneurs. The next event, entitled “How to take your business online for less than £100”, will feature Emma Jones (founder of Enterprise Nation and co-founder of StartUp Britain) on 20 November at Somerset House, London.
If you’re a small business owner who’s keen to get involved, download Small Business Saturday’s digital pack or sign up to get a pack posted directly to you. This pack will contain posters and marketing collateral for you to use on the day. Use it to get people talking about the event in your local community, get your network involved, ask your friends and family to attend; hopefully, these discussions will lead to increased visibility for you and your enterprise.
Small businesses are the cornerstone of economic activity and this is none more so evident than in the UK, where freelancers and small business owners can take advantage of favourable tax breaks in setting up and running their own limited companies. It’s relatively simple to get started, as long as you have an idea in place, a plan of action to compete in the market, and the potential to sustain profits.
From 1st Contact’s perspective, we’re tremendously excited about the potential for an even bigger, better event this year. If you’re a contractor or small business owner, best diarise the day and set a string of reminders in your calendar. Saturday 6 December is an opportunity to promote your business, get exposure and network, network, network.