Q&A with Michelle Ovens, Small Business Saturday

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The first Small Business Saturday UK in December 2013 achieved significant success in highlighting the important role small businesses play in local communities across the UK and encouraging consumers to show their support by shopping local on the first Saturday in December.

The high-profile campaign received overwhelming support with over £460 million being spent in small businesses on the day, and this year’s event on 6th December promises to be even bigger and better.

We talk to Michelle Ovens, National Campaign Director of Small Business Saturday about plans for this year’s celebrations.

Last year’s Small Business Saturday was a great success. Why do you think it was so well received?

Part of the joy of Small Business Saturday is its simplicity and the universally positive message of the campaign. I think both businesses and consumers really engaged with that.

We keep the message simple; businesses, celebrate yourselves and support each other; consumers, go and support your local businesses. The importance of small businesses is really starting to be recognised in all sectors, which helped us get the message out.

We received huge support from local authorities, small business organisations like the Forum, plus town centre teams, market traders, central government, corporate supporters – the breadth and depth of our supporter network really helped us get the message out. We loved the free parking that councils offered last year, and the Forum was brilliant and persuading them to do so. Keep up the good work!

(Note: The Forum is asking councils to offer free parking again this year and will update you with the results of our campaign next week.)

And of course, it is free to take part! We keep the barriers to entry as low as possible for small businesses and consumers, making it as attractive as possible to be part of the day.

What are you looking to do to build on this for 2014? What’s new for this year?

This year, we are focusing the campaign around three pillars: Support, Inspire and Promote.

Within Support, we are working to provide support services for small businesses to help them on their way. This might help with finance or marketing, or maybe advice on using social media. We are working with lots of supporters, such as the British Library, to give small businesses a step up.

For Inspire, we are working with entrepreneurs and local heroes to create inspiring workshops and mentorship for small businesses, to inspire them to be all they can be.

And of course Promote – we are a promotional campaign! Alongside the big media push (both local and national) we will have again this year, we will be running the Small Business Saturday bus tour, adding in more locations, such as Bristol and Leeds. We are also running our Small Business 100, where we promote a business a day for the 100 days running up to Small Business Saturday.

Last year, we took our SmallBiz100 to Downing Street for a reception. More information on both of these is on our website smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com.

What can businesses do to get involved?

Visit our website to download digital content like banners and send off for posters and other promotional material, and get involved with us on social media.

Small businesses should work with their local councils, small business organisations and their neighbouring businesses to create a celebration of the day and encourage customers to get involved.

We will shine a massive national spotlight on small businesses for the day, so we do ask that small businesses do something to celebrate too. And of course, please tell us about it! We love to celebrate small business activity, so do get in touch and tell us what you are planning for the day. You can contact us on social media or on comms@smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com.