Prominent small business investors, entrepreneurs, and mentors address nearly 50,000 attendees.
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that this year’s National Small Business Week (NSBW) Virtual Summit last week drew more than 47,000 participants for the three-day virtual summit. Attendees heard from celebrity business owners, investors, entrepreneurs, and lead advisors from across the small business community, and connected with fellow small business owners from across the country. The event featured a focus on resilience and recovery, offering 22 educational sessions to help participants leverage SBA services and funding as they work to recover and build back better than ever.
“Our 2021 National Small Business Week Virtual Summit put a spotlight on the more than 32 million small businesses and innovative startups that are the beating heart of our nation’s economy,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “I’m proud that our dedicated SBA team was able to facilitate so many timely, thought-provoking conversations. And, I am thankful to the renowned business leaders and corporate partners who helped us deliver innovative programming to our incredible network of resource partners and customers. Throughout NSBW 2021, we have celebrated the resilience, creativity, and determination of our nation’s small businesses while connecting them with resources and tools to recover and help build our nation’s economy back better.”
Although the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit has ended, content and information are still available online for anyone registered to review. Below is a recap of the main sessions:
DAY 1: NSBW kicked off with keynote welcome remarks by SBA Administrator Guzman, followed by keynote remarks by Mark Cuban and White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond. “The Biden Administration is dedicated to restoring small businesses, the backbone of our communities. The resiliency of those not only hit by the pandemic but the same ones devastated by Hurricane Ida still find ways to give back to the community while moving forward,” said Senior Advisor Richmond. “The American Rescue Plan has committed funding and resources to community organizations leading to serve as navigators to continue to assist those who may have not been able to benefit from early in the pandemic, the hardest hit – the underserved communities,” he added.
“There are two amazingly unique moments in the life of a small business owner, their first day in business, and every single day when you wake up,” said entrepreneur Mark Cuban. He went on to discuss two commonalities of success in entrepreneurship, “agility, those of us who are able to be agile; you can do really good. Equally important is communications; being able to have open communications with suppliers, employees, customers, because they are affected by the same challenges you face.”
The day included cosponsored sessions hosted by: Visa, Facebook, Google, Constant Contact, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Other sessions from the first day included a fireside chat with Administrator Guzman and restaurateur Chef José Andrés. “I always tell people I am a cook. You say you're a chef, yeah, but cook for me is in essence what people like me do not only in America but all around the world every single day, which is making sure that one plate of food at a time; we keep our business rolling; we try to solve some of the hunger problems America and the world faces. So in this pandemic, we saw that planning was OK, but adaptation will win the day.”
DAY 2: The day began with a session on “Access to Capital for Women Entrepreneurs” moderated by Natalie Madeira Cofield, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership. “We know the pandemic has created circumstances that have disproportionately impacted women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs. Women have already experienced challenges in access to capital, and this is a much-needed conversation,” said Madeira Cofield. The panel featured women leaders in the venture capital space, discussing the unique challenges and areas of opportunity faced by women business owners seeking access to capital. “The strongest businesses come out of economic crisis and the best source of capital are your customers. Women-owned businesses listened to their advisors, heeding warnings, and communicated with their customers to weather the storm,” advised Sharon Vosmek, CEO Astia.
As with day one, cosponsored partners and leaders in the small business community led other sessions which provided free advice, networking, and discussing resilience in Women, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American small business communities. SCORE, U.S. Postal Service, and MetLife led discussions on access to capital and service-related partners to help small business owners recover.
In a session on “The Importance of Black and Brown Community: Coming Together to Support Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Small Business Day,” Tarik Brooks, President of Combs Enterprises spoke about the importance of Black and Brown communities and the important role they play in the nation’s economic growth and future. “Their courage, determination, and perseverance deserve to be recognized and applauded. The entrepreneurial spirit that drives these business owners will be the fuel that powers us beyond the pandemic and toward the closing of real wealth gaps that plague minority communities that were only worsened by the pandemic. I owe my entrepreneurial spirit to my father, Carl Brooks. As a child, I watched him build and run a small business while navigating a very successful career in corporate America,” said Brooks.
The final session of day two featured a conversation titled “Pathways to Entrepreneurship: A Fireside Chat” between Administrator Guzman and Jennifer Lopez moderated by MSNBC contributor Maria Teresa Kumar. “I lived in underserved communities where it was kind of put in my mind like that wasn't me. I'm not going to be a big pop star. I'm not going to have my own business. No, you can do all of those things and I think my advice then would be to never let ‘no’ stop you or never let the voices inside your head -- which sometimes are bigger than the voices outside -- stop you from knowing deep down that you are capable of anything that you want to accomplish in any dream that you may have, in any sector of business, or the arts or whatever, or politics, or anything,” said Lopez.
DAY 3: The day began with “Recovery Lessons from the Nation's Entrepreneurial Coaching Network & Remarks from Entrepreneur Daymond John” and executives from SCORE, America's Small Business Development Centers, and the Association of Women's Business Centers joined by Associate Administrator, Office of Entrepreneurial Development Mark Madrid to discuss lessons learned, strategies for growth, and stories of business resiliency that drive economic resurgence. SBA's partnership network features more than 10,000 business mentors that work with owners across the country daily. “To meet small businesses where they are during a critical time in their recovery,” stated Madrid, “we must collaborate closely with our SBA Resource Partners. Through a hyperlocal approach, we must listen to, empathize with, and tailor timely solutions for our U.S. small business owners. We are grateful for our tireless, dedicated, and vast Resource Partner network, which has risen to the occasion in helping America’s small businesses stay open and reopen.”
Empowering the Veteran and Military Small Business Community showcased a panel of accomplished veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs who shared how to tap into SBA’s veteran resources to start, grow, and expand your business. “Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s National Small Business Week observance offered an important opportunity for the SBA to support veteran-owned small businesses nationwide, more than ever before,” said Larry Stubblefield, Associate Administrator for SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development. “At OVBD, we’re here to empower you – whether you’re a transitioning service member, veteran, National Guard, Reserve member, or military spouse – with the tools to start, grow and expand a small business. We do this by providing counseling, business training, access to capital, and government contracting opportunities at every stage of the small business journey. In the event your business is adversely affected by a disaster, the SBA has the resources to support you through the recovery process too.”
The summit sessions concluded with Gateway to Success - attendees were provided a virtual overview of SBA field office resources available nationally to help businesses start, grow, expand and recover, with guidance on how to get connected to the powerful network of small businesses entrepreneurs locally.
On-Demand videos are now available through the NSBW registration page on score.org and the SBA Channel on YouTube.