It's Naive for Small Business to Expect Much From Small Business Saturday Customers think warmly of small businesses in principle but it's price, service and quality that decides where they buy.

By Gene Marks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Thong Vo |

Can you feel it? The building anticipation for what seems to be the small business event of the year. I'm talking, of course, about next weekend's Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28). Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this is the day that all of America is supposed to be honoring small businesses. It's our moment. We're hanging signs and putting out the displays. "Support us!" we demand to our communities. "We're small businesses!"

Really? Are we that naïve? Do you really think that Small Business Saturday means anything to your customers? Do you really believe articles like this one that report that there were "88 million Small Business Saturday shoppers in 2014" and that they "spent $14.3 billion." Oh c'mon…where does this data come from? And how many of these shoppers would've been out shopping during that first unofficial weekend of the holiday season anyway? Do you think this was because of Small Business Saturday? Believe me…it's not. But don't tell that to some.

Related: 10 Ways to Prepare for Small Business Saturday

For example, Small Business Saturday means a lot to American Express. And good for them, because American Express is a good company and they hit solid gold here. Who was the PR guy who came up with this idea? He (or she's) a friggin' genius. That's because Small Business Saturday is nothing more than a PR stunt for big businesses. The marketing minds at American Express thought this up a few years ago and the day has ballooned into a national event. Their logo is plastered everywhere. Their name is associated with news stories, contests and promotions.

And other big companies are getting in on the action. Banks, retailers and corporations that cater to small businesses are jumping on the "Small Business Saturday" bandwagon to use that day and show how much they care about America's small companies too – offering their own deals and discounts and love for those 28 million potential customers of their products and services. But no, it doesn't stop there.

Related: Transform Seasonal Shoppers Into Loyal Shoppers Year-Round

Now, politicians are getting involved. Look for President Obama to take a stroll on Saturday, most likely with his daughters and most likely to some locally owned bookstore like DC's Politics and Prose, to buy a few items with a credit card that will be discreetly handed to him by a helpful aide. Turn the channel and you'll likely see most of the dozens of presidential candidates doing the same in their own local communities while making sure everyone is well aware of their passionate "support for small businesses" (which is kind of like saying you support cancer research or puppies because…you know…who doesn't support small businesses, right?).

Congress is, of course, honoring the day with a special resolution. States and local governments across the country are issuing their own proclamations. You'll hear very similar sound bites about how small businesses "employ more than half of working Americans" and "how we're the backbone of this country." Yay for us!

But really, are you that naïve?

Are you naïve enough to think that your customers care about your business? That you deserve any more support than a charity for the homeless or a non-profit trying to eradicate multiple sclerosis? That, just because you have a little shop on Main Street selling crafts or coffee or whatever knickknacks, people should spend their money with you just because they're "thinking small"? Especially if they can spend less money down the street at a Walmart or CVS? Exactly what does anyone owe you, the small business owner? What's so special about you that there's a whole day on the calendar devoted to drawing attention to your existence? So you're a small business. Big deal.

You don't need "Small Business Saturday" to succeed. If you're a successful small business owner you could very well be insulted by the idea. I am. You run a profitable business. Your customers buy from you because you simply give them a better product or service than the competition, large or small. You provide that extra level of attention that big companies can't deliver. You are involved in your community because it's the right thing to do. You pay your taxes. You hire. You fire. You know how to buy something for a dollar and sell it for three. There should be no national day that recognizes your profit-taking. This is just what you do and you do it well. There are other people more deserving of the country's attention – like our military, for example.

Pity the competitor who actually thinks that Small Business Saturday is going to benefit their business. And after you've pitied him on Saturday I know what you're going to do. You're going to go out and crush him on Monday. His former customers will be all the recognition you'll need.

Related: Restaurants Ask Customers to #DineSmall on Small Business Saturday

Gene Marks

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

President of The Marks Group

Gene Marks is a CPA and owner of The Marks Group PC, a ten-person technology and financial consulting firm located near Philadelphia founded in 1994.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Side Hustle

Anyone Can Start a Passive Income Side Hustle For Easy Money — But Only If You Know These 5 Essential Tips First.

The rise of digital automation technology has made starting a passive income side hustle easier and more accessible than ever before.

Side Hustle

He Launched His Creative Side Hustle Out of a Garage. Now It's Worth $225 Million.

Tom Humble, CXO and founder of E.C.D. Automotive Design, followed his passion for custom auto design into big business.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2023

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2023.


How to Start a 'Million Dollar' Morning Routine

Restructure your morning with a few simple steps that may help to amplify your energy.

Business News

This Company Promised to Transform Drive-Thrus With AI — But the Secret Powering Its Tech? Humans.

Presto Automation Inc., one of several major players in AI-ordering tech, has made headlines for using off-site employees in places like the Phillippines.