America cherishes -- and deeply depends on -- its 28 million small businesses, and the thinkers, doers and dreamers who own and work for them. Producing close to half of our national goods and services, and creating approximately two out of every three new jobs each year, they’re the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of the American dream.
That’s why, every year since 1963, to honor and uplift entrepreneurs from California to New York, the National Small Business Administration (SBA) declares one week a year National Small Business Week (NSBW). This year, the special week takes place from May 1 through May 6.
To honor, elevate and celebrate the entrepreneurs behind our small businesses, the SBA is hosting many free, inspiring and educational events throughout its 10 regions and 68 districts during NSBW. Several companies and organizations will join the SBA in applauding the entrepreneurial spirit of our nation’s small-business owners, offering free workshops, webinars and other events throughout the week, the theme of which is once again “Dream Big, Start Small.” To spread the word via social media, the hashtag is #DreamSmallBiz.
For all the hard work you do, day in day out, “contributing to our collective American story,” we think you deserve to take a break, kick back and dream big. Here’s a list of free, inspiring events, webinars and more for entrepreneurs to take advantage of during NSBW:
1. Attend an inspiring SBA-hosted NSBW event near you.
SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet will travel across the country in a week, co-hosting NSBW events in the following cities: Washington D.C., Atlanta, New York, Denver, Phoenix and San Jose, Calif. She’ll be talking with local business leaders, presenting awards and sharing helpful business tips and trends. To attend one of these events, register here.
2. Watch the SBA NSBW action unfold via livestream all week.
If you can’t make it to one of the NSBW events in the above-listed cities, you can still watch the action happen via livestream. Head over to www.sba.gov/nsbw/ starting at 7:30 p.m. E.T. on Sunday, May 1, to tune in. You can also follow Contreras-Sweet at @MCS4Biz on Twitter or Instagram for updates on the fly all week. Follow the SBA’s official Twitter feed here as well.
3. Learn how to grow your business online with Google.
Google is teaming up with small-business-focused organizations in towns and cities across the country to host free workshops on how to grow your company’s reach online. Head over to www.gybo.com and click on the U.S. map to find a Google workshop near you.
Google says attendees will learn how to manage their business information as it appears across Google Search and Google Maps. They'll also brush up on how to use Google AdWords Express, Google Analytics and Google Apps for Work to better boost online visibility and to optimize internal workflows.
4. Expand your business acumen via a NSBW webinar.
The SBA hosts a series of informative small-business webinars, starting Monday, May 2, and ending Thursday, May 5. Topics to be covered include: demystifying voluntary employee benefits; recent payment technology innovations; cloud, mobile and social apps for growing your business; business-loan-application best practices and how to use Intuit Quickbooks. To see the complete webinar schedule, click here.
5. Attend a Facebook "Boost Your Business" networking event.
In honor of NSBW, Facebook will host four Boost Your Business events in cities throughout Texas next week. If you happen to be in the Lone Star State and want to attend, the networking events will unfold in Corpus Christi on May 2, Houston on May 3, San Antonio on May 5 and College Station on May 6.
Each offers a day of connecting with local community and small-business leaders and fellow entrepreneurs and business owners. Lots of tips on how to use Facebook and Instagram to amplify your business’s reach will be shared. Breakout sessions will hone in on using both popular social platforms for marketing and for sharing video content. For more information on these events, head over here.
6. Get social with Twitter’s "#TweetHour" on scaling your business.
Kicking off on Thursday, May 5 at 7 a.m. E.T., Twitter will put on a #TweetHour focused on tips for scaling your small business. The scheduled host for the hour is Simon Walker, a marketing manager from IFTTT, a San Francisco-based tech startup that automates web services. Walker will also be tweeting about how to save time and money, and how to boost productivity, all things most entrepreneurs and small-business owners can get behind.
To join the hour dedicated to doling out and swapping business growth advice, log on Twitter and search for and use the hashtag #TweetHour.
7. Learn how to access loans and capital through Sam’s Club and Accion’s webinar.
Having a healthy cashflow is key to staying in business. For many small companies and entrepreneurs, business loans and capital are essentially the lifeblood of their operations. To find out more about how to access finance options such as these, tune in to Sam’s Club Giving, Small Business Majority and Accion International’s hour-long webinar on Wed., May 4 at 4 p.m. E.T.
The free online event, titled “Access to Capital and Business Loans: Best Practices,” coincides with Sam’s Club’s announcement of $8.8 million in grants for veteran, women and minority small-business owners. Webinar attendees will learn how to identify the right financial products for their particular business needs. To take part, register here.