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The History of Small Business Saturday

POSTED: 23rd October 2013
IN: Business news
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The first Small Business Saturday in the UK takes place on December 7.

The initiative, based on the four-year old scheme in America, is a community campaign designed to raise awareness of SMEs across the United Kingdom. It's an apolitical venture, powered by local authorities and individual businesses across dozens of sectors, which is for the benefit of SMEs across the country.

The initiative is championed by Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, although the event has support from across the aisle; David Cameron and Matthew Hancock have pledged their support, while business leaders Karen Brady and James Caan have also welcomed the campaign.

"It is non-political and non-profit," says James Day, social media manager for SME group Ingenious Britain. "The whole thing is a combination of small business groups and the efforts of local councils. Nobody gets any financial gain."

'We want to make businesses more sustainable.'

James and Ingenious Britain are responsible for the online communications for Small Business Saturday, utilising the small business community on Facebook and Twitter to drum up awareness for the campaign. The reaction, comments James, has been universally positive.

"We're trying to make business more sustainable, more receptive to customers and encourage long term custom," he affirms. "We're trying to change consumer behaviour in the long term, and a lot of people recognise the value in that."

'A lot of people take the High Street for granted.'

In James' opinion, the Small Business Saturday initiative is in response to the economic pressures SMEs across the country are under. 'It's been tough for everyone,' he notes, although he points out that optimism is growing within the small business community. Indeed, he argues that many businesses are emerging in a better position as public perception of SMEs, faced with empty high streets, is changing, stating, "I think SMEs have been taken for granted for quite a while; a lot of people took the high street for granted."

Indeed, James hopes that Small Business Saturday will help to change the perception of SMEs, saying that people think it's 'expensive and inefficient' to shop at SMEs. 'In reality,' he states, 'SMEs are more flexible and more personable.'

"People usually have a better experience when they shop at an SME."

'This is a long-term campaign for SMEs'

James is being realistic about the potential impact from the first Small Business Saturday, noting that 'we're not thinking that we're going to change the world in the first year.' He calls the campaign 'grassroots,', although he has big ambitions for the initiative, promising that it's 'not just for one year'.

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