As this year’s Small Business Association’s (SBA) National Small Business Week wraps up, I wanted to take a look at some of the helpful and inspirational tips and information that came out of this annual event. Held throughout the nation since 1963, this weeklong event offers plenty of opportunities to learn what is currently affecting the small business climate.
“National Small Business Week offers the opportunity to engage in a national dialog about small business and consider new trends and opportunities,” says Kurt Bilafer, global vice president and in charge of sales at payment platform WePay. He took advantage of various Small Business Week events, such as attending webinars, and found that “there is plenty to learn throughout the week about how to improve your business.”
Here are some tips and trends highlighted during Small Business Week that were aimed at helping you grow and improve your small business.
Focus on Financial Fitness
A firm financial foundation is just one aspect of a small business’ success. The webinar “Tips for Getting Your Business Financially Fit” was provided by the SBA’s SCORE mentorship program. Presented by John Shapiro of Intuit Quickbooks, the webinar discussed how understanding the financial condition of your business can be important to planning for long-term success.
Invest in Online Business Growth
No matter your business, your online presence may need constant bolstering. A variety of events held throughout the week helped small-business owners with the task of shining on the web. Google teamed up with small-business-focused organizations and hosted free workshops on how to grow your company’s web presence.
"Building a solid online presence requires embracing technology enabled platforms and leveraging their power,” says Bilafer. “These platforms’ speed of growth and economies of scale enable them to out-compete traditional businesses. Well-known platforms include social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and sharing economy apps like Uber and Airbnb. Any company that has a product or service or a business system they’ve perfected that enables other companies to better operate their business can evolve to become a platform company.”
Believe in Endless Possibilities
This year's Small Business Week was especially encouraging when it came to opening a business today, believes Debora McLaughlin, CEO of The Renegade Leader.
“The week’s key message of 'Dream Big, Start Small' opens the door of possibility,” she says. “For the first time, anyone can be an entrepreneur. With the Internet, access to crowd funding, venture capital and the willingness of organization such as the SBA to offer assistance, small businesses can be started with ease. The traditional barriers of funding, research and marketing data and lack of mentorship are eliminated.”
Learn to Ask for Help
A far-reaching event such as Small Business Week illustrates how helpful it can be to ask for and seek out assistance. “Small businesses don’t have to go it alone,” says McLaughlin. “The path to entrepreneur can be lonely, and many business owners believe they have to know all of the answers, which isn’t true. Instead, seek out resources, such as the SBA, Center for Women & Enterprise and the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, the latter of which helps businesses secure large government contracts.
A key lesson to come out of Small Business Week is the SBA's willingness and ability to assist a wide range of businesses, adds Brett King, senior vice president and managing partner of Elite Financial Associates. “This forum encourages communication between successful business owners and provides step-by-step assistance, which may help to eliminate common mistakes new business owners make. As the old saying goes, why try to reinvent the wheel. Most successful people in business are the one's willing to learn from others with more experience, which is the key purpose of National Small Business Week.”
Take Full Advantage Next Year
In addition to providing a wealth of information on how to improve business, Small Business Week offers a unique opportunity to market your business, believes Karen Leland, founder of the branding and marketing strategy firm Sterling Marketing Group and author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand.
“A variety of ways exist to take advantage of small business week and promote your business,” says Leland. “This can be everything from holding a special webinar or meeting to offering a discount and using social media to promote the week. The great thing about Small Business Week is that many small events that the general public may never have heard of otherwise become apparent during the week, and this positively impacts small business in exponential ways.”
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