Small Business Briefing

Readying to gobble up business on Small Business Saturday

The Globe and Mail

(Sean Gallup/2010 Getty Images)

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U.S. post-Thanksgiving shopping initiative targeted at small businesses

Thousands of U.S. small businesses are jumping on board Small Business Saturday, a U.S. shopping holiday initiative first created by American Express last year to fall on the Saturday after U.S. Thanksgiving.

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It's wedged in between Black Friday and CyberMonday, which are all about big-store retail and online shopping.

Small Business Saturday, conversely, is all about encouraging holiday shoppers to empty their wallets at small and local businesses.

Amex is offering a one-time $25 statement credit for those who register an eligible Amex card and make a purchase of $25 or more at a participating small business.

Others are getting in on the act with Amex. This year, it teamed up with Fedex to offer 40,000 $25 Amex gift cards to non-Amex customers, but they ran out in an hour, according to this report. Foursquare users who find participating stores using the service, "check in" and spend at least $25 on their Amex cards will receive a $25 credit on their Amex bill, this report says.

More than 100,000 business are participating in Small Business Saturday, which falls on Nov. 26 this year, according to this report, hoping to gobble up business from millions of shoppers.

Organizers say the movement helped boost same-day sales last year by 27 per cent, according to Amex and this report.

As of this morning there were more than 2.3 million Facebook 'likes' of the initiative.

How to capitalize on the momentum?

And when Small Business Saturday is over, how to keep the momentum going?

With advice that small businesses on both sides of the border can profit from, Forbes contributor and marketer Rhonda Hurwitz offers a three-stage plan for a social media campaign that could be used for any before, during and after kind of event to keep on capitalizing on business.

Before the event begin, she advises making sure the social networks you plan to use year-round are all set up and well-integated into your business, and use them to create a personal business connection to the event.

During the event, take steps too. For instance, ask customers to 'like' your business on Facebook, make online comments, and join your mailing list, with an incentive such as a next-purchase discount. Live-tweet and take advantage of Foursquare.

After the event, she says to keep the conversation going. Feature fan photos and videos, tips, weekly promotions and helpful content, she suggests. And create a themed edtorial calendar to keep your efforts ongoing.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

CIX innovator of the year award

Dr. Geordie Rose, founder and chief technology officer of D-Wave Systems Inc. of Burnaby, B.C., has been awarded the inaugural CIX (Canadian Innovation Exchange) innovator of the year award.

Dr. Rose won for his invention of the world's first functional quantum computer -- a "rare example of a breakthrough that will literally change the way we perceive computing going forward," said CIX co-chair Rick Nathan in a release. "After more than 10 years of research and development, 2011 was the breakout year for the company." D-Wave made its first commercial sale of its system to Lockheed Martin Corp. this year.

Physicists and computer scientists have long been trying to develop a quantum computer processor. Calling it "transformative technology," the release said it is "comparable in scope to the sift from vacuum tubes to transitors to silicop chips, with vastly more processing power and the ability to solve complex problems that are simply not possible through today's advanced supercomputers based on conventional processors."

Dr. Rose will receive the award Dec. 1 at the MaRs Discovery District in Toronto at CIX, a one-day forum that focuses on innovative technologies, featuring speakers, panel discussions, networking and the CIX Top 20, showcasing some of Canada's hottest innovative companies working in digital media and information and communication technology. For more information, click here.

A world of opportunity

Expanding overseas can be daunting, but also open a world of opportunity. To help companies take their business abroad, Export Development Canada is hosting a free, all-day virtual conference and exhibition. called 'Big ideas for small business' on Nov. 22, featuring global business specialists and a panel of experts. For more information, click here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Hunting for the next great idea

So you want to be a serial entrepreneur? Finding that next stroke of genius isn't about being hit by a bolt out of the blue, but 'looking at everyday things in a slightly different way,' and then thinking about how you can improve on them.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Serial entrepreneurs benefit from experience

Research confirms that serial entrepreneurs tend to perform better than others. They have a huge advantage over newcomers to the startup game because they bring a potent combination of experience, reputation and contacts to the table. And the next time, they’re determined to avoid past mistakes, Cathryn Atkinson wrote in this piece in November, 2010.

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