I wonder how the small businesses of the UK will look back on 2016 in years to come - it has certainly not been quiet or boring! Perhaps it will be with a sense of melancholy at the loss of so many national treasures - Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Victoria Wood.... Or will we remember the global security fears, or the economic uncertainty? It is a lot to take in, over and above the daily challenges of running a business. It would be totally understandable if we all felt overwhelmed by it all, or a sense of foreboding about what it all means.
But I just don't buy that. I don't see businesses being pulled down by the sometimes lead-weighted worries that 2016 has thrown their way. Just this week, I have been hearing from two fantastic business leaders - Martha from Love Give Ink (http://www.lovegiveink.com/) and Steph from Don't Buy Her Flowers (http://www.dontbuyherflowers.com/ ) who are both moving into their first offices from being home businesses. Sure, it is scary - terrifying levels of unaccustomed overhead, new staff, new hurdles to get over. It is a journey that many small businesses will go through - and indeed hope to go through! But it is not without its challenges. And what I see from both of them more than anything is hope. These businesses have such a strong sense of positivity about the future that it is infectious. Everyone who comes into contact with them is swept away by their hope.
Hope is in fact what I see throughout the Small Business Saturday campaign, and hope is what I am planning on seeing into 2017.
There is a built in optimism in the Small Business Saturday campaign that small businesses can do more and can BE more. Yes we can get more customers out on the 3rd December. Yes we can make this pay dividends year round as customers come back again and again. Yes we can have the best year ever!
This goes back to the very origins of the campaign in the US. When American Express launched Small Business Saturday in the US in 2010, it was a rallying call to all local communities to support their small businesses coming out of the big recession - a real message of hope. In a time of difficulty, it is even more important to support those around us who make our lives and communities so vibrant.
President Obama famously said that the nation's recovery will be through small businesses, "These entrepreneurial pioneers embody the spirit of possibility, the tireless work ethic, and the simple hope for something better". That message of hope still resonates today in the UK as small businesses deal with the big challenges and come out thriving.
We want to spread that message of hope and optimism to all small businesses - and that is exactly what we are going to do with Small Business Saturday this year. I have found that hope is contagious - so go and spread it around. It is exactly what 2016 needs.