More than half of all Americans either own or work for a small business, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Administration's annual National Small Business Week is April 30 to May 6 to recognize that we create two out of every three new U.S. jobs. It's our chance to talk up each other, and sharpen our own skills. Here are five ideas to improve the value we offer to all consumers.
1) Use Small Business Week as an excuse to learn about the trends, technology and marketing tactics that can help take your small business to the next level. Enroll in an online seminar, or a live and local one. Tech is a game changer, and an ever-changing game. So is marketing. Even if you just refreshed your skills with a seminar or meeting last year, that was 365 days of innovation ago.
2) Look at your recent tax filing. Did you pay too much? Did you plan too little? Taxes – property, personal, and/or payroll – are predictable aggravations for any small business owner. If you found April 18 or the last year-end to be particularly stressful, your accountant has helpful suggestions. So does your office professional.
3) Outsource what you can. The timing of Small Business Week couldn't be better to evaluate where you stand as a business. You're one third of the way through the year. How much of that four months have you spent actually doing what you set out to do? If you spent a quarter of your time chasing invoices or selecting insurance or managing payroll or marketing, any of these can be outsourced so you'll spend 100 percent of your time on your trade, rather than 75 percent.
4) Attend one event or open house, or create your own. The SBA has a list of events at the link above. Local Chambers of Commerce hold 'Business After Five' events. I personally know of one that very week at Yerkes Observatory on Geneva Lake. If there isn't an event in your town, consider hosting your own open house or networking get-together for your local peers. It can be hard to step away from the daily demands of running a small business—use Small Business Week as an excuse to take a little break and connect with fellow small business owners.
5) Join a Chamber or service organization. Never underestimate the powerful networking possibilities that exist in Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, The U.S. Junior Chamber (Jaycees) or a local Chamber of Commerce. Sorry if I missed one: It wasn't an intentional slight. Each group puts you elbow-to-elbow with possible customers and provides an undeniable measure of community goodwill.
Image by Paulus Rusyanto, used with permission.