Five years is a long time in the life of a small business. In five years the whole world can have changed - staff gone, new team, new office, growth, sometimes decline, changing markets, and not to forget that 40% of small businesses don't make it to five years.... It is this more than anything else that sits at the heart of Small Business Saturday. If we can stop more businesses failing, that can mean huge benefits to communities and the economy as a whole.
How do we stop small businesses failing? Ah, it's an age-old question. Is there an inevitability to business failure? We just do not accept that to be the case. With support at start up, getting small businesses engaging with digital, help to grow and manage costs, help with marketing and eventually export, small businesses have so much opportunity to help themselves now that outstrips anything available in the past.
Small Business Saturday was started in the US by American Express as a response to the financial crisis, with the ultimate goal of supporting small businesses through that. It has continued in the UK in the same spirit and over the last five years has achieved that and much much more.
Small Business Saturday is a moment in time to discover, connect and re-connect with small businesses in your community, and customers have done that in their droves. Every year on the first Saturday in December since 2013, customers and traders have got out to give a bit of extra love to their local small businesses - both in their towns and online. The cumulative impact on small business success has been profound. Small businesses that make the most of the day have reported crowds of extra customers, enthusiasm and support from their neighbours and customers, and in many cases increased revenues year on year, not just coming from a Christmas rush.
It is not just a day for shopping - in fact it is no longer just a day. Small Business Saturday is a movement to encourage engagement with and support of small businesses all year round. Whether it is the Inspire series events, regional activities, streamed content or online help and advice, the spirit of Small Business Saturday lives all year. And for customers, it is not enough just to go out on the one day - the small business community needs year round support. And that is what we have seen growing every year. Customers discover small businesses on the day and then go back time and time again. Small businesses meet customers, suppliers and ultimately friends through the campaign, which is as much as anything an excuse for a community to come together and support each other.
If Small Business Saturday means anything, it means community. The small business community that can help, support and guide each other to avoid the year 5 cliff fall; the local community of customers who pop in, or click on, and develop a relationship with the business over time; the infrastructure of a community that comes out to support and help small businesses - with over 80% of local councils now supporting the campaign, there is something for you wherever you are in the UK.
The strength of the campaign is the strength of small businesses - supporting, serving, employing, caring - small businesses sit at the heart of communities. Go to any town fair or village fete and small businesses are at the centre of them. Go to any school or hospital and local businesses are leading the fundraising and events. Look for those hiring apprentices, supporting those with mental health problems, hiring and training the homeless, reducing food wastage and cutting carbon emissions - small businesses are right there in the beating heart of it.
Over the last five years of Small Business Saturday, we have felt this heart beating stronger and stronger, and for our fifth year we will be celebrating this spirit of community up and down the country with birthday parties, bus tours, events and celebrations. Be a part of this incredible movement and get involved right now www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com
We need our small businesses as we need our strong communities. Let's make this the biggest year yet and wrap our arms around the smallest that do the greatest.