This upcoming week (April 30 to May 6, 2017) is National Small Business Week (NSBW). Since 1963, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has sponsored this week, which recognizes and highlights the impact of small businesses across the country. The SBA reports that small businesses create about two-thirds of all new jobs, put money back into local communities, and contribute to overall national and global economic growth.
The fact that many U.S. consumers are actively choosing to "shop small" confirms this: According to a recent AT&T survey, 90 percent of respondents shop at small businesses at least once a month, with nearly half that shop at a small business every week. Of the small businesses, restaurants had the most support, followed by retail stores and medical offices, hair salons and coffee shops.
Small businesses are an integral part of any community. As a business owner, here are four things you can do to get involved in your local small business community, during National Small Business Week and throughout the year.
1. Sponsor local events and charities
In every town and city, there are sports teams, theater productions, parades and other community events that rely on donations from individuals and businesses in the area. Rob Rae, vice president of business development at data protection platform Datto, said small business owners should consider banding together to sponsor one of these organizations.
"Offering sponsorships for local groups or events is a great way to show support for the surrounding community," Rae said. "You can sponsor Little League teams, or support your employees who are involved in marathons, races, etc."
You can also get involved with charity organizations, such as your local food bank or shelter, Rae said. Charitable efforts will get your name out to the local community and help a worthy cause.
2. Get a pulse on your local customer base
If small businesses are the backbone of the economy, loyal customers are the backbone of a small business. A recent survey by Cox Business found that an overwhelming number of American consumers visit a local small or medium-sized business at least once a week, with slightly more than a quarter (27 percent) visiting those same stores at least twice a week on average.
They do so because consumers enjoy the familiarity and loyalty of local businesses, and respondents also cited a greater level of trust and more competitive pricing than large businesses as reasons to shop small businesses.
During NSBW, it's especially important to reach out to the customers who have helped make your business successful, said Allison Checchi, chief marketing officer at YP.
"Giving consumers an opportunity to share positive stories about their favorite employee or most memorable experience helps grow and foster customer relationships, which are so crucial to long-term success as a business," Checchi said. "At the same time, it has the added benefit of increasing awareness of your business at the precise moment when people are paying so much attention to small businesses."
3. Join your local Chamber of Commerce
If you want to get involved in your small business community in a big, tangible way, Rae recommended joining your local Chamber of Commerce.
"Membership offers you an awesome opportunity to network with other small business owners, and will help you build recognition as a local expert in your field," Rae said.
John Swanciger, CEO of Manta, agreed, and noted that getting involved in this type of organization can help you seek our partnerships with complementary businesses near you.
4. Attend a National Small Business Week event
All week, the Small Business Association (SBA) is hosting NSBW events in cities across the country. These panels, discussions and webinars cover a wide range of important small business topics, from how to start and grow a business to the business of agriculture.
"Small Business Week is about creating opportunities … to drive conversations that arm local business owners with insights, tools and resources they need to power their business," Checchi told Business News Daily. "Local business owners should take advantage of these moments to network and gain knowledge."
Each event will either be live-streamed from the SBA website, or can we watched on Facebook Live on the SBA Facebook page, so even if you're not in the area, you can still tune in and benefit from the expert insights. Visit the below links for scheduling and attendance information:
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.