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Small Business Saturday: why it should be on every SMEs calendar

Lynne Rawlinson

Small Business Saturday is a grassroots campaign that encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ in the run up to Christmas.

Five years since the initiative launched, it is now much bigger than just the high street and aims to increase awareness and trade for all types of small businesses including online, office-based and B2B companies.

The Small Biz 100 celebrates one small business a day on the days running up to the event.

Small Business Saturday provides lots of opportunities for an SME to get involved, and as is often the case, there is strength in numbers.

“Small businesses can maximise the benefits of Small Business Saturday by working together,” says David O’Brien, Business Doctor for South Lincolnshire & Rutland.

“And if the local council joins in, that adds to the value.”

North East Lincolnshire Council is supporting local businesses this year by waiving parking charges in most of their car parks on Small Business Saturday. Local small business owners are taking advantage by creating a “market within the market” where they will join regular stallholders to offer a unique selection of goods.

Other businesses in the area are holding a “Fiver Fest” on the day, offering some great deals for just £5.

“By working together all the businesses get a chance to raise their profile and gain some new customers – and some new business friends,” says David.

Vanessa Peters, the Eastbourne-based Business Doctor for Sussex East echoes that teaming up can increase impact.

She says: “In one town I know,  some traders have set up joint initiatives, including a town centre trail of ‘At Home’ events, providing a themed shopping experience that shoppers can dip into at a time and place of their choosing. 

“This type of event lends itself well to creative, artisan type business where collaboration is widely accepted and customers are happy to pay for unique work and high levels of skill.”

But don’t just get swept up in the crowd and make sure you are taking part in Small Business Saturday for the right reasons, warns Vanessa.

“It’s all about mind-set,” she says.”If an SME is participating because they think they have to rather than because they want to, that attitude will shine through.

“Customers are generally happy to buy from small businesses, but they want to feel the love. If they just wanted any old business transaction, they would deal with a larger, more anonymous business or buy online.”

This year Small Business Saturday is on 2 December and is supported by American Express, Federation of Small Business, Indeed, Lightspeed and Vistaprint.