New survey finds that small business owners crave connections and marketing advice; The UPS Store offers both with networking opportunities throughout May Business is built on relationships, and for many small business owners, cultivating those connections is critical. According to a recent survey* conducted by The UPS Store, Inc., networking and marketing are two of the most important areas for growth for small business owners. Two-thirds of the small business owners surveyed agreed that it is important to form strong relationships with other small business owners and 75 percent revealed there are opportunities to expand their marketing efforts. In celebration of National Small Business Week (May 1-7), The UPS Store is bringing together networking opportunities and marketing help through its annual Small Biz Salute, a month-long initiative providing entrepreneurs in several of the nation’s top small business cities special opportunities to make meaningful connections in their communities and gain valuable marketing advice from business experts. “In the world of instant communication, we’re finding that small business owners value the traditional face time of in-person meetings where they can exchange ideas, share best practices and learn from their peers,” said Tim Davis, President of The UPS Store, Inc. “Small Biz Salute is our way of satisfying small business owners’ craving for connections while at the same time recognizing and celebrating them for their hard work and contributions to their local economies and communities.” Throughout the month of May, The UPS Store will encourage people to “salute” their favorite local small business by giving them a shout out on social media with #SmallBizSalute. In four cities — Minneapolis, Nashville, Houston and Phoenix — The UPS Store will be hosting events to provide small business owners the opportunity to meet and network with other owners in their communities. In addition to networking with peers, attendees will also have the opportunity to gain valuable business advice from experts like Marcus Lemonis, Host of CNBC’s The Profit, who is teaming up with The UPS Store to help small business owners and will also be the keynote speaker at the Small Biz Salute event in Minneapolis on May 4 and Phoenix on May 24. “As someone who hears small business challenges on a daily basis, I’m excited to collaborate with The UPS Store to help reach more entrepreneurs and give them the inspiration to find success,” said Lemonis. “While entrepreneurs by definition are in business for themselves, it doesn’t mean they have to do it by themselves. Getting expert advice and best practices from peers is a brilliant way to learn and ultimately grow your business.” The UPS Store is also using National Small Business Week as an opportunity to help start or grow small businesses through its Small Biz Pitch Competition**. For the Small Biz Salute events in Minneapolis, Nashville and Houston, eligible local small businesses can submit an application for the potential opportunity to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges. Four finalists will be selected to compete at each event for the grand price award of $5,000 while also getting the invaluable feedback on their idea from hundreds of local small business owners. Those interested can apply online prior to the event or arrive early the day of the event for the opportunity to compete. With small business owners reporting that marketing is one of their biggest business challenges – coming in higher than finding time to manage their business and financial resources – The UPS Store will be offering marketing advice at each of the Small Biz Salute events and attendees can learn from business experts on ways to streamline their marketing efforts. In addition to the Small Biz Salute events, small business owners across the country can take advantage of 4,500 UPS Store locations where they’ll find a suite of products and services that can help them better market their business, including: Marketing services. More than three-fourths of the small business owners surveyed (76 percent) agreed that there is room to expand their marketing efforts. The UPS Store provides tools and resources to help small business owners promote and market their business with email marketing, website design, social media and more. Print services. Business cards and print materials are a common tool amongst small business owners. Three-fourths of all respondents in the survey discussed above (75 percent) use business cards to promote their business, along with brochures (27 percent), flyers (22 percent) or direct mail pieces (22 percent). The UPS Store offers online and print services. Mentoring and business management. Each UPS Store location is locally owned and operated, and franchisees often take an innovative approach to providing unique customer consulting and solutions. The UPS Store also works with SCORE to help build awareness of business mentoring opportunities for small business owners across the country.