Fifth annual Small Business Saturday Bus Tour launches nationwide today

New features to this year's campaign include a Small Business Saturday mobile app - with special interviews also to be broadcast via Facebook Live

Small Business Saturday, the nationwide campaign to support and promote the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses, has today launched its fifth annual national bus tour.

Starting from Dundee at 10am this morning, the bus will visit 29 different towns and cities across the UK, offering local businesses and entrepreneurs special mentoring and the chance to promote their business across social media.

The tour will finish in Brighton on 24 November, before Small Business Saturday officially takes place on Saturday 2 December.

Last year, the initiative was supported by 82% of all local councils in some shape or form.

Speaking exclusively to Startups, director of Small Business Saturday Michelle Ovens MBE, explained how the national campaign attracts hundreds of thousands of businesses:

“Pretty much wherever you live in the UK, there’ll be something going on near you – and lots of people are doing very different things.

“There’s a massive sale on in Derby in their big market hall for example, and there’s a lovely little town called Kenilworth in Warwickshire where there’s going to be an ice rink for Small Business Saturday – that’s something we’re very excited about!.

“Because we’ve so many partners across the country working with small businesses it’s very, very hard to give a definite number  [how many businesses take part]. It’s certainly many hundreds of thousands.

“Often a small business will engage with their local council, or their local FSB or Chamber of Commerce, or in fact they might just come together with other small businesses in the town and do something. It’s an imprecise number – but it’s huge.”

New features to this year’s campaign include a Small Business Saturday mobile app, and a special Small Business Saturday Blue Sofa – from where interviews will be broadcast via Facebook Live.

Available via iOS and an Android, Small Biz Sat UK works in a similar way to the Small Business Finder on the campaign’s website and allows business owners to advertise their business and promote sales and events, while helping consumers to identify local shops in their area.

Free to use, the app can also be used by both B2B and B2C businesses.

“We have over 25,000 business now on the app, with an incredible geographical reach. We’ve yet to find a town that you can’t find a small business in. We’ve tested it a few times with random villages across the country and you’d be amazed.”

Another new addition this year, the Small Business Saturday Blue Sofa will feature interviews from small business owners, enterprise experts as well as a few famous faces and mentors in every location – and will be broadcast via Facebook Live.

As ever, on-bus mentoring will also available for business owners – who can sign up for the free service on the Small Business Saturday website.

“This really was driven by feedback from small businesses saying that what they felt they needed was more expert mentoring. They said their questions on running a business may not fit into a neat category, like marketing or accountancy, but actually they needed more general advice and having someone to turn to.

“So in each location we have local mentors that businesses can meet on the bus tour. Hopefully they’ll also develop a relationship, so they can go back and ask for help even after we’ve gone.”

Where will the Small Business Saturday Bus be stopping?

  • Monday 23 October Dundee 10:00 till 14:00
  • Tuesday 24 October Edinburgh 10:00 till 14:00
  • Tuesday 24 October Prestwick 16:00 till 16:30
  • Wednesday 25 October Lisburn 10:00 till 14:00
  • Thursday 26 October Belfast 10:00 till 14:00
  • Friday 27 October Dumfries 10:00 till 14:00
  • Monday 30 October Sunderland 10:00 till 14:00
  • Tuesday 31 October Lancaster 10:00 till 14:00
  • Wednesday 1 November York 10:00 till 14:00
  • Wednesday 1 November Selby 15:00 till 16:00
  • Thursday 2 November Brigg 10:00 till 14:00
  • Friday 3 November Rochdale 10:00 till 14:00
  • Monday 6 November Bangor 10:00 till 14:00
  • Tuesday 7 November Stoke 10:00 till 14:00
  • Wednesday 8 November Birmingham 10:00 till 14:00
  • Wednesday 8 November Studley 15:00 till 16:00
  • Thursday 9 November Hereford 10:00 till 14:00
  • Friday 10 November Barry Island 09:00 till 09:30
  • Friday 10 November Cardiff 10:00 till 14:00
  • Monday 13 November Leicester 10:00 till 14:00
  • Tuesday 14 November Stevenage 10:00 till 14:00
  • Wednesday 15 November Lowestoft 10:00 till 14:00
  • Thursday 16 November Maldon 10:00 till 14:00
  • Friday 17 November London 10:00 till 14:00
  • Monday 20 November Plymouth 10:00 till 14:00
  • Tuesday 21 November Taunton 10:00 till 14:00
  • Wednesday 22 November Reading 10:00 till 14:00
  • Thursday 23 November Ryde (Isle of Wight) 10:00 till 14:00
  • Friday 24 November Brighton 10:00 till 14:00

For more information on Small Business Saturday, click here.