Americans have celebrated Small Business Week each year since 1963. The weeklong event was created to remind us all of the critical role small businesses play in the United States’ economy. In 2020, Small Business Week has been postponed due the impact of the coronavirus and will be rescheduled once a recovery is in full swing.
You might have the perception that Small Business Week applies primarily to brick-and-mortar retailers. However, it’s something that any business owner can use to their advantage.
While traditional merchants and store owners who meet with their customers face-to-face every day may have an easier opportunity to celebrate the week, that doesn’t mean that online businesses aren’t able to get in on the fun.
Are you the owner of a small online business who’s wondering what, specifically, you can do to celebrate Small Business Week? Here are seven ways to get involved this year.
1. Schedule a meetup or workshop with your community
Just because yours is an online business doesn’t mean you can’t meet up in real life with your customers and community.
Let’s say you own an online jewelry repair company. You can use Small Business Week to host a workshop for members of your community where you teach them how to fix a necklace clasp or how to make a bracelet, for example.
Holding in-person events is a great way to get to know the people who support your online business and cultivate strong relationships with them.
2. Host a live Q&A on social media
An easy way to capitalize on the momentum behind Small Business Week—and engage your audience further—is by hosting a live question-and-answer session on social media.
On Twitter, for example, you can announce ahead of time that you’re planning to host a Q&A one day during Small Business Week, and that people can follow along by posting to a particular hashtag (e.g., #YourBusinessNameSBW).
Combine a live Q&A session with a contest to encourage more and more of your audience to participate.
3. Launch a major promotion in your online store
Does your company sell products in an e-commerce store? If so, consider offering lightning sales—maybe 20% off—during Small Business Week.
This will almost certainly translate into more revenue in the short term. Over the long term, you’re likely to gain at least a few new customers who will buy things from your store in the future.
If you don’t have an e-commerce store, you can still offer your customers discounts on your products and services.
For the best results, promote your sales in your email marketing outreach and on your social media channels.
4. Participate in Small Business Week events
No matter where your small business is headquartered, there will almost certainly be events in your area that you can attend during Small Business Week.
Every year the Small Business Administration (SBA) sponsors national events; branches also sponsor events at the state-level. A list of SBA-sanctioned events can be found here as the celebration approaches.
You can likely find other events to participate in by checking in with your local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce.
5. Announce a new product or initiative
Small Business Week provides the perfect opportunity to announce new offerings or initiatives.
If you’ve been developing a game-changing product or service—or you’re launching a new marketing campaign or a freshly redesigned website—it may make sense to wait to make a formal announcement until Small Business Week in order to capitalize on the buzz and excitement surrounding it.
6. Team up with complementary online businesses
In many instances, two small businesses working together are better than one working by itself.
Partnerships can help your small business deliver more value to your customers—and more cost-effectively.
If your company stands to benefit from a strategic partnership with another small business, wait until Small Business week to announce the news.
7. Apply for a small business grant
If it doesn’t make sense for your business to do any of the above, you can always take advantage of Small Business Week by applying for grants and entering contests designed to benefit companies like yours.
For example, FedEx runs a contest each year that awards 10 outstanding American small businesses. The first-place prize is $25,000 plus $7,500 worth of FedEx services. Enter the contest before registration closes on March 28.
If you miss the window for that particular contest, there are a host of others available.
Small Business Week is a seven-day celebration, and many companies devote one day of the week to each item above.
Once businesses reopen and the economy recovers after the pandemic subsides, we wish you a successful Small Business Week in the future.