Throughout the calendar year, there are days, weeks or even months devoted to certain causes or groups. Such is the case for entrepreneurship. One week a year, the U.S. celebrates an important segment of the economy – entrepreneurs. This year, Airfoil supported Microsoft’s leadership role in the conversation, shining a spotlight on some of the most innovative, creative and unabashedly brave small companies achieving audaciously big things.

From tweet chats with SMB influencers, to workshops at various Microsoft Stores across the country, and signature events in New York and Seattle, it was a week chock full of content, storytelling, ideating and networking. In alignment with Microsoft’s National Entrepreneurship Week efforts, we developed the 10 Under 10 campaign, which celebrates some of the most inspiring businesses with fewer than 10 employees. The campaign was designed to inspire makers, creators and innovators to ignite their dreams into businesses through the transformative power of technology, mentorship and community support.

Below are a few key takeaways from the week:

1)  You’re never too old, or young, to start a business. From Mikaila Ulmer, the 12-year-old visionary behind Me & the Bees, to UGG Boots founder Brian Smith, who is an advocate for the power of entrepreneurship in later life, it is clear that the entrepreneurial community is highly engaged and optimistic about future opportunities. In the case of the “youthpreneur,” it can be seeking advice from an established business professional to talk about product production and distribution. In the case of a “boomerpreneur,” it could be getting inspiration from a newer generation of thinkers to make your product or service relevant to a specific audience segment.  

2)  Relationship building is a marathon and not a sprint. Professional networking is not about standing in a room with one hand on a cheese plate and the other clutching a cache of business cards. It’s about making personal and authentic connections with the goal of building lasting relationships. Entrepreneurs are, essentially, an open source community. This is a group of individuals willing to share their experiences with others for the betterment of all SMB success. It’s inspiring to see and hear people talk about their challenges in a way that identifies new solutions. Find a local SMB group near you, get involved and make a long term commitment to connect with others.  

3)  Technology is a great equalizer for SMBs. While not all small businesses aspire to grow into huge enterprise companies, that doesn’t mean they can’t reap the benefits of enterprise-class tech solutions to manage their business, connect with customers and create new ways of doing things. The cloud has created new opportunities for even the smallest microbusiness to scale with super affordable software that connects devices, data and insights to truly transform an idea into a thriving business model.

Many powerful lessons bubbled up during the week, and they are great reminders to keep the conversation going year-round. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, creating jobs and driving innovation. It’s important every day to create new relationships, get out of your comfort zone, speak with others who are dealing with a similar set of challenges, and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. After all, 2020 is just around the corner, and there is a whole set of business trends and marketing opportunities ahead for existing, and budding, business owners. For more on 2020 marketing trends, download our free eGuide