For more than 60 years, American Express (NYSE: AXP) has been committed to supporting the small business community. American Express is continuing that commitment with a unique virtual experience, bringing resilient entrepreneurs together from coast to coast for “Business Class LIVE: Summit for Success” on October 20, 2020. While the Summit is typically held in-person, this year American Express has built a fully immersive, proprietary Amex Virtual Campus to host the day-long experience for thousands of small businesses. The Summit aims to address small business owners’ needs by providing networking, resources, and tools to help them navigate challenging times and continue on a path towards growth — all at no cost to attendees. The Summit will also host several sessions dedicated to supporting the specific needs of minority-owned businesses.
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The Amex Virtual Campus – Conservatory (Photo: Business Wire)
“The COVID-19 crisis has challenged small businesses in more ways than one – employee health and safety, supply chain disruptions, running businesses from living rooms with homeschooling in between and more. It’s shown us all how resilient small businesses can be, while also revealing many pressing questions.” said Clayton Ruebensaal, EVP of Global B2B Marketing at American Express. “We designed this year’s Summit to answer many of the questions small businesses have today: How do I pivot? What’s the best way to market my business online? What’s the best way to get a loan? How do I stay healthy while working-from-home? We’re doing it by bring together the right content, speakers and networking opportunities, in an unexpectedly engaging way, to help small business owners turn uncertainty into opportunity.”
To measure how the COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted the country’s entrepreneurial spirit, American Express asked small and mid-sized business (SMB) owners about their feelings toward entrepreneurship. The recent American Express Business Resiliency Survey* found:
Despite the economic downturn, 75% of entrepreneurs are optimistic about the recovery of their business, and 86% expect their business to fully recover in less than five years.
Right now, business owners are looking for support in identifying new growth opportunities (44%), marketing, branding, and social media (41%) and managing their cash flow (37%).
The top three resources business owners would find most helpful in navigating these unprecedented times are virtual business conferences/webinars (47%), virtual networking events (44%), and advice and resources about leading through a crisis (44%).
81% of business owners still believe the benefits of owning their own business outweigh the challenges.
“Business Class LIVE: Summit for Success” was built to address many of the needs the survey uncovered – from access to capital to leadership to personal enrichment – by tapping into American Express’ deep relationships with small business customers and the business community at large. The Summit is a key part of the company’s journey to digitize and democratize business education through ‘Business Class by American Express,’ a modern business education initiative for today’s leaders. Business Class comes to life through world-class business know-how, essential insights, and inspirational stories to help people navigate the current environment.
What to Expect within the Amex Virtual Campus
This year’s virtual, yet immersive, event will continue to provide the access and experience people have come to expect from American Express, with a platform that will enable learning, discovery and real-time connections. With over 35 exciting and informative sessions featuring trailblazing speakers from a variety of industries, the Summit will cover a range of relevant and timely topics. Each session will fall into one of four tracks:
Good for Business: Tools to help grow and operate a business
Good for People: Tools to help stay balanced, inspired, and motivated to fuel success
Good for Community: Workshops and tips on building a cross-cultural business community
Business Stories: Hear how business owners have pivoted, the lessons learned, and tips to unleash growth potential
Key themes at this year’s Summit will be business resilience and pivots, reflecting the findings of the American Express Business Resiliency Survey. The majority (82%) of business owners say the pandemic has made them change the way they think about business operations, and 82% believe they are now more prepared to handle future crises. The survey also found that nearly half (42%) had to change their business model to maintain revenues, and 34% are currently in the process of pivoting their business. Among those who already pivoted, approximately seven in ten (73%) expect they will have to pivot again in the next year.
When asked what they miss from pre-pandemic times, 33% of business owners said networking with other business owners. Summit attendees will be able to participate in American Express’ “Contract Connections” program, where one-on-one meetings will be facilitated between suppliers and buyers from government agencies and large corporations to discuss real business opportunities.
As part of American Express’ commitment to support entrepreneurs, the company recognizes and continues to back minority-owned businesses, many of which are experiencing some of the most debilitating challenges within the small business community. For example, a high priority for all business owners, as well as Black business owners, is access to capital, as 77% of Black business owners (compared to 74% of all SMBs) identify this as important. Additionally, women business owners identify managing cash flow issues as a top priority (80%) for the next year. The Summit will offer dedicated sessions to address these vital needs not only for women- and black-owned businesses, but also to meet challenges faced by LGBTQ+- and Latino-owned businesses.
American Express has partnered with the U.S. Black Chamber, L’ATTITUDE, the Women Presidents’ Organization and more, to help bring some of these dedicated sessions to life:
“We’re thrilled to join American Express’ Summit for Success, as they recognize the impact of telling the stories of women-owned and led businesses navigating these challenging times,” said Camille Burns, CEO of Women Presidents’ Organization. “Despite the growing number of women-owned businesses and their undeniable impact, we’re still finding ways to equal the playing field by backing women entrepreneurs and providing them with key resources, including networking opportunities like Summit, to help them grow and thrive.”
“Black-owned businesses have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. We’re thankful American Express is continuing their support for Black business owners by providing resources to address opportunity gaps and help Black-owned businesses recover from the pandemic,” said Ron Busby, President, U.S. Black Chamber. “We look forward to sharing and hearing solutions to safeguard Black-owned businesses during this year’s Summit.”
“Just as Latino businesses were hit the hardest in the Great Recession, history has repeated itself with COVID-19. And just as U.S Latino small businesses led our country in its recovery during the past decade, they again are poised to lead America’s recovery now. They have proven to be the most resilient in spite of also being the most under-capitalized,” said Sol Trujillo, President of L’ATTITUDE. “I applaud American Express for the opportunity to talk about the road ahead for U.S. Latino business owners and how we can work together to provide them with what they need most to continue to lead our New Mainstream Economy”
Business owners can register and view the full agenda for Business Class LIVE: Summit for Success here, with registration closing on October 18, 2020.
*American Express Business Resilience Survey Methodology:
Findings are based on results of two separate online surveys. One was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans 18 years of age and older living in the United States. The second survey was conducted among 1,000 small- and mid-sized business owners in the United States whose revenue ranges from $500K-$300M. The small- and mid-sized business owner survey was weighted to be representative of US census regions. The surveys were conducted by a third-party vendor and completed between September 8-23, 2020. The margin of error (MOE) for the total sample at the 95% confidence level is +/- 3 percentage points.
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