Insight Blog – Join our campaign and support small businesses everywhere…

Small Business Saturday really is a labour of love – right from the beginning it has been brought together by volunteers and organisations with one goal – to support, inspire and promote small businesses. Year one was a real roll-your-sleeves-up-and-get-stuck-in year. Although the US campaign had been running for 4 years by that point, the UK campaign was in year one – and we had no idea what to expect from British small businesses and consumers.  I have enormous faith in the British spirit however, and we were not disappointed!

Thankfully, we had a lot of support, both locally and nationally, from local authorities, central government, trade organisations, MPs, corporates, small businesses and consumers, as well as incredible media support. As well as getting considerable support from the US campaign founders, American Express, high profile supporters, such as the Prime Minister, Shadow Secretary of State for BIS Chuka Umunna, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Theo Paphitis really made the difference for us in getting the message out. We couldn’t have imagined the success year 1 would be – 48% awareness among consumers and close to half a billion pounds spend at small businesses on the day.  And of course, we trended on Twitter for over 24 hours. Not a bad report card for year 1!

I definitely thought we would have a bit of down time before year 2 kicked in – lie ins, afternoon tea, weekends off… but this turned out not to be the case… Barely had the New Year arrived and we were off again for 2014 – bigger and better than ever before! We officially launched the campaign at the FSB conference in March, and had a launch event at the British Library in July. We have been working our socks off engaging with supporters and are excited how things are shaping up for year 2. We are now moving into the last few weeks of this year’s campaign and things are hotting up to be a mega year for us. SmallBiz100, where we profile a business a day in the 100 days leading up to the campaign, has started its count down and we have been meeting some outstanding small businesses. We started the count down with an awesome business called Two Fingers Brewing (http://twofingersbrewing.co/), who give all their profits to Prostate Cancer UK. These guys really embody the Small Business Saturday spirit – entrepreneurial, fun and community spirited – we love them!

We are currently taking our bus tour to cities around the UK . It has been such a great opportunity for us to meet communities and talk directly to small businesses and consumers about Small Business Saturday. (as well as, based on last year, experience all the country has to offer in the world of Christmas jumpers from the best Christmas markets in the world – we have some crackers!)

This really is the most rewarding part of the campaign for me – speaking to small businesses and hearing their great stories. It is this belief in small business and the entrepreneurial spirit in the UK that drew me to the campaign in the first place, and it is what keeps me going! When we get emails all the time from businesses telling us that they sold out of stock before Christmas or had a bumper years trading due to the boost from Small Business Saturday – well, then you know you really did something.

One thing that’s made absolutely clear from our campaign is just how integral small businesses are to our economy and that we need to do all we can to support them. That’s what makes the Small Business Charter such a great initiative. By linking up small business, business schools and students the SBC aims to create growth, success and opportunity by sharing knowledge and skills and being an integral support structure in the small business community.

As for Small Business Saturday we are asked all the time how to get involved with the campaign, and it couldn’t be simpler: go to our website www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com and check out the get involved tab. We try and make it as easy as possible – small businesses, celebrate the day, send off for or download some posters, follow us on Twitter @SmallBizSatUk and like us on Facebook. Everyone else – go out and support your local businesses on the day – we look forward to seeing you on the 6th December!

Michelle Ovens

National Campaign Director

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-political, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities. The day itself takes place on the first shopping Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2014 Small Business Saturday UK will take place on Saturday December 6th.