The Best Live Events And Conferences For Small Business Owners

By Mark Kao

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You bear a lot on your shoulders as a small business owner. From handling supplier relationships and commitments, product development, to DIY marketing, the number of hats you wear throughout the workday only grows.

But if you’re spending all of your time on office work, you are not:

  • Networking and building valuable contacts
  • Brainstorming ideas and finding inspiration
  • Learning about the competition

If you’re not willing to invest some hours or days in any of the above, you can bet that a competitor is - and they might just gain that edge over you.

The good news, however:

Attending live events can fill in those gaps. And in this post, we will look at some of the best conferences and shows built for the hard-working small business owner such as you!

America's Small Business Summit

For 13 years and counting, the US Chamber’s Small Business Summit is the live event of choice for over 900 small business owners, entrepreneurs, and managers from across the country.

This year, the 3-day Summit will take place at the luxurious Omni Shoreham Hotel, just minutes away from major landmarks and attractions around Washington, DC.

Meet and greet other business owners as you unwind in the Entrepreneurs’ Lounge. The Networking Breakfasts lets you fill your tank with healthy eats while connecting with fellow attendees.

Drop by the Small Biz Solutions Marketplace where you can discover solutions and services designed to “up” your company’s performance and bottom-line.

And to satisfy attendee’s quest for continued learning, the event will also serve up concurrent Master Classes where you can get up to speed with the latest developments and best practices in small business cyber security, marketing, leader and management, and more.


Southwest by Southwest, better known as SXSW, is a yearly fusion of interactive media, technology, music and film festivals, and conferences. SXSW started in 1987 and had only grown stronger and better every year. But why would an owner of a small firm want to attend SXSW?

The reasons are many.

First of all, ideas and inspiration for your business can come from unexpected places. Not to mention SXSW happens in mid-March, a perfect opportunity to take a breather after a frantic attempt to recover from the January sales slump.

And according to neuroscience:

You’re more likely to stay productive and solve business problems creatively when you’re relaxed!

And just because the event has an entertainment slant to it doesn’t mean you won’t find any biz-related wisdom in SXSW.

Sure, big names from the entertainment industry like Mike Posner, Seth Rogen, and TI are par for the course. But the startup and technology sectors track of the conference also gathered entrepreneurs, established businesses, and founders to discuss ground-breaking trends in the business and technology world.

Global Entrepreneurship Week

The Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is not a single event but a celebration across 160 countries. Every November, millions of seasoned and would-be entrepreneurs around the world inspire and learn from one another while meeting potential mentors, investors, and partners in their countries.

From November 13 to 19, the US edition of the GEW will take place in Reno, Nevada where organizers will serve up business-related activities to entrepreneurs young and old.

Last year, universities across the country celebrated the week-long event with inspirational talks from established entrepreneurs, forums on innovation and startups, sound business and financial advice from experts, and some good ol’ rapid-fire pitch competition.

In the UK, GEW started out as Entrepreneurship Week and grew to become one of the largest business initiatives around with over 900 events.

Small Business Expo

At the Small Business Expo, entrepreneurs, biz owners, and startup founders can participate in all-things business. The Expo packs a B2B tradeshow, conference, and networking sessions in a free one-day event, perfect for businesspeople with little spare time and budget.

Throughout the year, the Small Business Expo tours across 18 states and locations, bringing along esteemed speakers and experts like award-winning authors Mark Victor Hansen and Chris Gardner, TD Bank’s Jay Desmarteau,’s Tyler Brown, and much more.

Attendees can also sit down at any of the 25+ workshops to learn how to refine their mission-critical business processes. The Speed Networking and business card exchange sessions, on the other hand, can help you get valuable referrals in record time.

And if you’re in the market for business solutions including merchant services, marketing, CRM, and office supplies, the large exhibit is where it’s at!

America’s Small Business Development Center Conference

America’s SBDC Conference is now in its 37th year, setting up shop at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort from September 4 to 8.

The conference is aimed at SBDC professionals across the United States, attracting over 1,300 directors, business advisors, and trainers. However, America’s SBDC Conference has a lot to offer to business owners, too.

This year’s theme, “Work Smarter. Live Better,” is suitable wherever you are in the business hierarchy - whether you're a professional development expert, would-be founder, to seasoned entrepreneur.

The agenda is packed with over 140 workshops on subjects relevant to any business regardless of its size - from financial planning and forecasting, building better workplaces, to work-life balance.

Check out the trade show to catch the latest information on products and services designed for businesses looking to get that extra edge in today’s competitive environment.

Startup Grind

Startup Grind is a global network designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. While the worldwide community has local meetups, Startup Grind will host its 2018 Global Conference in Silicon Valley from February 14 to 18. The conference was built with technology entrepreneurs in mind, helping them find valuable contacts and resources for their startups.

But even if you’re not in the tech sector, you have good reasons to attend Startup Grind.

For starters, technology can serve as an equalizer - a secret weapon that can help you play and even win against the big boys in your industry.

Think about it:

Finding the right marketing channel, scaling and increasing profits, and improving workplace satisfaction are just some of the biggest goals a business owner like you may have. But the common denominator among them? You can get to these goals faster using the right technology.

And boy, Startup Grind has business-building tech in spades!

The 2017 conference attracted and connected 5,000 founders, investors, and business owners with ample networking opportunities. The agenda packed keynote and fireside sessions that tackled crucial topics including learning as an entrepreneur, building habit-forming products, refining recruitment processes, and more.

The Business Show

The Great British Business Show, or simply the Business Show, attracts more than 20,000 exhibitors across the UK. This year, the event will open its doors from November 16 to 17 at Olympia, London - and tickets are free!

You may not be in the market for business solutions. But the Business Show isn’t just an all-encompassing exhibit. With over 250 seminars and master classes across the venue, your business knowledge and skills might just get a serious upgrade in Olympia.

Catch Raja Saggi, head of Google UK’s B2B marketing, and conquer B2C and B2B customer acquisition the digital way. Or listen to Gori Yahaya, head of training for Google’s Digital Garage, as he demystifies social media and shows you how to use Facebook marketing, social media listening, and other tactics to your advantage.

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You might like these blog posts 8 Tips To Automate Your Social Media Efforts, 5 Content Marketing Mistakes That Will Kill Your Small Business, 4 Employee Wellness Programs To Offer In 2019, and The 2 Greatest Life Hacks for Salespeople.

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