Small Business Saturday (SBS) was launched in 2010 and has since grown from a grass roots campaign, encouraging consumers to ‘shop local’, into an annual event that has reached millions and raised awareness of the importance of small businesses.
It was originally created by American Express in the US at a time when the world was recovering from a financial crisis, with the simple aim of creating exposure for small businesses to help sustain and grow this valuable sector of the economy in difficult times. Due to its success SBS has now grown to become a key calendar moment not only in the US, but also in the UK and Australia.
SBS was launched in the UK in 2013 and has gone on to be a stand out success. In the UK, consumer total spending on the day, which is the first Saturday in December has risen from £468m in 2013 to a stunning £748m in 2017. £748 million was spent in 2017 up 4% from the year before, with 87% of local authorities backing the campaign, up from 80% in 2016.
So what’s this got to do with little old me you might be wondering? Well I have run my own business now for 6 years and heard about SBS 3 years ago through a networking colleague, local entrepreneur and my Sunday school teacher, of approximately 40 years ago, Elaine Pritchard of Caittom Publishing. I will be dead honest at first I didn’t get it! Don’t get me wrong I loved the idea of encouraging consumers to buy from small independently owned local businesses (I am one after all) but just couldn’t get my head around why I would want to close on one of my busiest days in the week to promote it!!! I think Elaine despaired of me a bit and I don’t blame her if she did.
Last year I decided I would dip my toe a little further into the water, so I applied to be part of SmallBiz100, which is where SBS chooses 100 small business from across the country, and highlights them one a day in the 100 days leading up to SBS. To give you some idea of what this means for the last 5 years, the 100 have not only received exposure on Small Business Saturday’s social media channels and in the local and national press, but also joined the Small Business Saturday team in London at receptions in both Downing Street and The Treasury Drum with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is great exposure for a small business if you make the most of it.
I also spent some time going around the other local small businesses in my area to spread the word about SBS, but unfortunately I was left feeling flat and frustrated as they were not that receptive or keen on embracing the concept either. I had, if I am honest, entered into it in a halfhearted manner, feeling that it was something I “should” embrace, as opposed to something I wanted to embrace. There is a big difference and the results completely reflected that – my application was not successful.
Fast forward to 2018. This year I changed my mindset and decided I was all in this time, so donned my wellies and jumped in with both feet to make a big splash! I was determined to wholeheartedly embrace it and get more involved in what was going on in my local area. I filled in my #SmallBiz100 application, sought help and guidance from my trusty supporter Elaine, roped Gerald (my skeleton) into my video attachment and pressed send!!
Guess what? I was successfully chosen! Excited, proud, surprised are just a few words to describe how I feel and am very much looking forward to getting to know the other 99 business and supporting them on growing their businesses and encouraging people to shop with them.
If you are a small business and would like to get involved you can register your business for free at https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/my-small-business so that consumers can search for you online. You can also start thinking about applying for SmallBiz100 2019 as the time to enter your application will be here sooner than you think. You can start making a note of events, important dates, wins for your clients, capturing photos etc all of which can go into your application. I would also be more than happy to help and support you in your application if I can.
The world of small business can sometimes be a tough and lonely environment, but with people’s love and support for their community enterprises, beyond just the day itself, SBS’s status and small business’ across the UK can only continue to grow.