National Small Business Week is here! This annual event, run by the U.S. Small Business Administration, draws awareness to the nation’s 28 million small businesses. Yet, many small business owners tend to think of this week, held April 30-May 6, as a marketing plug.

While the event does provide a great way to promote your small business, did you know that there’s more to National Small Business Week than marketing gimmicks and hashtags? In fact, there are loads of free workshops and events—many of them specifically for women entrepreneurs. If you take advantage of these programs, you can get business advice that you would ordinarily have to pay big bucks for. Here’s how women entrepreneurs can tap into these programs and sign up for business boosting events close to home or online.

Participate in Local Small Business Week Events

Along with an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. honoring several small business owners, National Small Business Week takes its show on the road May 1–5. SBA Administrator Linda McMahon is onsite for events in Indianapolis, Arlington, TX and Fresno, CA. If you don’t live in any of these locations, don’t worry. You can watch the events live-streamed online. In addition to the national roadshow, regional SBA chapters are offering their own events. Also jumping into the act are National Small Business Week sponsors and local chambers of commerce with specialty programming. You can even find several city-wide programs in celebration of small business week. We did a little digging and came up with some worthwhile free events for women entrepreneurs. Take a look:

  • In Chicago, Free Range office is offering an all-day Women’s Collective Forum on May 2, as well as an evening reception and panel discussion on May 4. Kicking off the week, the collective day-long event starts with a networking breakfast, followed by a Q&A on the unique challenges women face when starting and growing businesses. The event also features speaker Melissa Ford of Melissa Ford Coaching and a mindfulness workshop presented by Erin Rachel Doppelt. The May 4 evening event will include a talk on “Being Your Own Brand for Business Success” with a panel of female business experts including Nathalie Rosado, associate director of the Women’s Business Development Center, Vanessa Valentin, associate director of marketing at WBDC, Kymberlee Kaye Raya, founder of Big Shot Marketing Inc., and Kimberly Jackson, founder of Stand-In.
  • In New York, The State University of New York at Stony Brook Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is offering the Women’s Empowerment Circle on Thursday, May 4 from 5:30-8 pm. After a light dinner and networking, attendees will hear from Maria Camassa, CPA and business owner, and Ronni Rosen, a senior business advisor at Stony Brook SBDC. The evening will also feature motivational speaker Suzanne Borelli, who will discuss how to “live your life in the front row.”
  • In California, the Capital Region Small Business Week Celebration offers a full slate of events from May 1-5. Although these are not specifically for women entrepreneurs, these programs can be valuable to women business owners. For example, the “Roadmap to Success: Small Business Symposium” on May 2 offers resources and answers for those just starting out in business, such as where to find funding sources, what form of ownership is best for your business, and valuable tax information. To sign up or learn more, go to the event website.

Participate in Online Small Business Week Webinars

If you can’t get away from your day-to-day responsibilities to attend a workshop or event in-person, you can still get involved online. Other than the national live-streamed events, National Small Business Week is hosting a series of webinars. Targeted to all small business owners, women entrepreneurs may be interested in registering for “Find the Hidden Money in America” on May 4, presented by media mogul Nely Galan. Galan was the first Latina president of entertainment for Telemundo and is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, SELF MADE. Galan will discuss how entrepreneurship provides a path to empowerment and offers advice on where to find financial resources.

You can also use social media to keep up with events and news about National Small Business week by following the SBA on Twitter or Facebook. If you go to the small business week webpage, you’ll find the latest tweets there or you can use the hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek to stay in the know.

Robyn is a journalist and business writer based in Boston. A former writer for Investor's Business Daily (IBD) and NerdWallet, Robyn is also the founder and director of Pretzel Kids, a children's fitness brand and online kids' yoga teacher training school. You can follow her on Twitter at @RobynParets and keep up with her musings on her blog Away From Om.

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