Small businesses are the backbone of the United States economy, creating nearly two out of every three new jobs in the US each year.
But COVID-19 has changed the business landscape of today. After what has been, for many small businesses, one of the toughest economic periods in recent history, business owners are trying to figure out how to navigate the ongoing pandemic and find ways to innovate, adapt, and move their businesses forward.
And one event that’s aiming to help them do just that? National Small Business Week.
While the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week has been a staple in the small business world for over half a century. But what, exactly, is National Small Business Week? What’s the event’s history? And what does the event have in store for 2020—a year where small business owners are facing unprecedented challenges?
What is National Small Business Week—and what’s the history?
For more than 50 years, the SBA has sponsored National Small Business Week (also known as NSBW) an annual event that recognizes and celebrates the contributions of the nation’s small businesses and America’s outstanding entrepreneurs and encourages consumers to “shop small” and explore their area’s small business scene.
National Small Business Week includes a variety of events meant to empower, educate, recognize, and celebrate small businesses and entrepreneurs, including an awards ceremony, the National Small Business Week Awards, that recognizes noteworthy small business owners and entrepreneurs and highlights national award winners in a variety of categories, including the award for National Small Business Person of the Year.
What does National Small Business Week have in store for 2020?
As mentioned, 2020 has been a tough year for a huge percentage of small businesses in the United States—and with coronavirus still an active threat, hosting in-person events wouldn’t be practical or safe.
So, this year, the SBA and cosponsors will be hosting a National Small Business Week virtual conference from Tuesday, September 22 through Thursday, September 24, 2020 that will not only recognize outstanding small business owners and entrepreneurs, but also provide education on how small businesses can navigate the current landscape and keep their businesses moving forward.
The event will kick off at 1pm ET on Tuesday, September 22 with the National Small Business Week welcome speech by SBA administrator Jovita Carranza. Then, at 1:30 pm, Carranza will kick off the National Small Business Week Awards presentations, followed by the announcement of winners for the state and speciality categories as well as the presentation of videos for the Small Business of the Year and the Phoenix Awards, which recognizes “business owners, public officials, and volunteers who displayed selflessness, ingenuity and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities.”
According to the NSBW’s nomination guidelines, as part of National Small Business Week, the awards presented during this year’s awards ceremony will include:
- Small Business Person of the Year (one award will be given for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam)
- Exporter of the Year
- Phoenix Awards for Disaster Recovery, including the Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery, the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery, Public Official, and the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery, Volunteer
- Federal Procurement Awards, including Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year; Small Business Subcontractor of the Year; Dwight D. Eisenhower Awards for Excellence, an award for large prime contractors who use small businesses as suppliers and contractors; and the 8(a) Graduate of the Year
- Awards to SBA Resource Partners, including Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Excellence and Innovation Center Award, Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award, and Veterans Business Outreach Center of the Year
- Jody C. Raskind Lender of the Year
- Small Business Investment Company of the Year
- District Office Award
The educational portion of the virtual event, Preparing for a stronger tomorrow: Recovery, Adaptation, and Innovation, will take place on Wednesday, September 23 and Thursday, September 24. Each day’s events will feature “educational presentations and panel discussions that help both new and existing businesses to recover, adapt, and innovate in this challenging time.”
Some of the numerous educational panels and panel discussion series featured as part of the National Small Business Week event schedule in 2020 will include:
- Small Business Well-Being During Uncertain Times, Jessica Moser, Senior Vice President, Small & Specialty Business, MetLife (Wednesday, September 23, 11:35am ET)
- SBA’s Veteran resources, Larry Stubblefield, Associate Administrator, OVBD (Wednesday, September 23, 2:30pm ET)
- Preparing for a Stronger Tomorrow: Adapting through Selling Online, Keri Cusick, Head of Small Business Empowerment, Amazon (Thursday, September 24, 10:25am ET)
- From Surviving to Thriving: Small Businesses Finding Growth, panel moderated by David Fischer, Chief Revenue Officer, Facebook and featuring additional speakers Lindzi Shanks, Co-Owner of XO Marshmallow and Dominique Oliver, Diamonds by Dominique (Thursday, September 24, 11:25am ET)
- How eCommerce is helping small businesses weather the storm, and how to prepare for what comes next, David Rusenko, General Manager of eCommerce, Square (Thursday, September 24, 1:30pm ET)
- SBA Resources to Support and Prepare Small Businesses for the Future, Allen Gutierrez, Associate Administrator of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, SBA (Thursday, September 24, 3:30pm ET)
All panels, discussions, and presentations taking place during National Small Business Week 2020 are completely free. To attend any sessions, all you need to do is register through SBA.gov’s online registration portal.
Where can I learn more about NSBW 2020?
National Small Business Week is an opportunity for small businesses to come together to celebrate their contributions to the U.S. economy, be recognized for their efforts, and gain access to invaluable information and resources to move their business forward—which, amidst the current economic challenges, feels more important than ever.
Interested in learning more about or attending National Small Business Week? For more information on this year’s national small business week activities, including registration information, a full schedule of events, and access to federal and local resources to empower small businesses and build a stronger economy, visit https://www.sba.gov/nsbw.