This Saturday is the UK's third Small Business Saturday, an annual day to champion the country's five million small businesses. It is a day to encourage all of us to support small businesses, as a way of effecting a change in our mindsets that may continue throughout the rest of the year. But do small businesses really need a day of their own? We absolutely believe that they do.
Recent research undertaken for Small Business Saturday showed us that our attitudes towards small, independent companies is changing. Small business owners seem clear about what a small business can offer that a larger business can not. These include factors like better customer service (84%), better local knowledge (83%), more individual products or services (76%), greater creativity (66%) and faster decision making (64%).
And it seems that consumers agree because optimism seems high among our small business community. More than half of respondents (54%) told us they have detected a greater willingness over the last year among the public to spend their money with small independent businesses. The trend is mirrored by 36% of small businesses detecting a greater willingness over the last year for businesses to spend their money with other small businesses. 29% said this was due to small businesses actively working together and supporting each other.
But behind the stats, this is a national day about individual businesses, each with their own particular story. It is about the diversity that exists within the small business sector, from the high tech, high growth business to the small high street retailer; from the individual tradesman to the accountant, web designer, coffee shop or restaurant. Indeed, our Small Biz 100 this year reflects almost any kind of business you can think of, including a zoo and a skydiving academy.
Small Business Saturday is already the UK's most successful grassroots small business campaign. Last year 16.5million adults went out to support a small business on Small Business Saturday with 64% of the UK aware of the campaign. It exists as a nationwide promotional and marketing tool for small businesses, something for business owners to join up with and use for the benefit of their own small business. It is totally free to participate and any small business can get involved. There's still time.
The Federation of Small Businesses reported a while ago that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p was re-spent in the local area compared to 40p in every £1 spent with a larger business. Spending with small businesses really does help your local community.
So here's the thing: supporting small businesses, not just on on Small Business Saturday but all year round, is not just about supporting local economies, important though that is. With five million in the UK, the chances are that anyone reading this will either own a small business, work for one or know somebody who does. That means giving a small independent business your custom is not an abstract concept - it is personal; it is about doing what you can to support the people you know.
More information on Small Business Saturday, including participating businesses and details on promotions and other incentives to support small businesses can be found on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page, Twitter page (@SmallBizSatUk) and website, www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com