Making the Most of Small Business Week

Melissa Cantarow

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Often it seems like big businesses get all the glory. But the week of April 30-May 6 belongs to small businesses, from startups to established companies with fewer than 500 employees. There are close to 29 million small businesses in the United States, according to The Small Business Advocate, and they account for 99.7% of all businesses in the country.

Small Business Week has been an annual tradition since 1963. Participants will take part in a variety of networking events, workshops, trainings and discussions. Each day’s events will take place in different locations, ranging from Washington, D.C. to Fresno, California. People who can’t attend in person can participate via live stream on the Small Business Administration website or join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #smallbusinessweek.

In addition to gaining valuable knowledge, small business owners can use this week as a way to jump-start initiatives and generate positive change. Here are some great ways to improve and promote your small business during Small Business Week and beyond.

Generate More Leads: Lead generation is the first step in gaining new customers. Traditional methods like direct marketing, in-person visits and phone calls still have their place, but small business owners must also use digital channels effectively. The most-popular digital methods are email, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising and social media posts. It’s also important to make sure that your marketing methods are successful and that your emails and posts are being read.

Increase Your Social Media Presence: If have a Facebook page or Twitter account, how often do you actually post? Is what you’re writing effective? Are you using these platforms to introduce new products and run promotions? Take the time to learn what works and set up a consistent schedule.

Other social media platforms might help you engage a target demographic. If you haven’t investigated whether sites like Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Yelp could help, now is a great time to start.

Create a Blog: Writing a blog serves many valuable purposes. It positions you as an expert in your field. It also helps build your database of prospects and boosts your SEO. To get the most out of your blog, use as many visual tools as possible and make sure your keywords optimize traffic. Not sure if blogging is worth it? Companies that blog receive 97% more links to their websites, according to Business 2 Community.

Streamline Your Business: Small businesses have to run lean and mean. Think about why you started your company in the first place. It certainly wasn’t to manage your own ordering and inventory. Automate processes like online ordering and inventory management. Instead, focus on what you do best.

Network: Attend as much of Small Business Week as possible. Not only will you learn valuable new skills, but you’ll also meet other professionals who may end up as customers or even partners. Keep your networking momentum going after Small Business Week, too. There are many networking events for small business owners around the country. Find them through your local Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com.

Give Back: Finally, don’t forget to give back. After all, it probably wasn’t too long ago that you were a struggling entrepreneur. Volunteer to attend small business events as a speaker or mentor. Consider partnering with other local businesses or working with a nonprofit. Both you and the connections you’ll make will be glad you did.

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