Coffee shop owner inside shop on tablet.
Small Business Month is a great time to refresh your inspiration and motivation to find new ways to grow your business. — Getty Images/CandyRetriever

May is Small Business Month, a time to support and celebrate the contributions of small businesses and startups. It’s also the perfect time for entrepreneurs to explore new ways to directly and indirectly grow their organizations.

This Small Business Month, jump-start your growth initiatives by tackling these 11 critical areas of business development, with dozens of tasks to get you started.

1. Develop core growth strategies

When you’re elbow-deep in day-to-day business management, it’s hard to step back and recognize where you’re falling short, let alone find time to strategize. In May, build your company by identifying weak strategies or workflows and adjusting your approach to support business growth.

Pick at least one strategy to work on and create achievable, short-term goals. Next, determine what financial and time resources your plan requires. Put your system into action with daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that move your company toward successful outcomes.

Here are a few resources to jump-start your strategy improvements:

  • Review collection and management. According to BrightLocal, 76% of consumers regularly read reviews of local businesses. If you don’t already have one, design a process to request, monitor, and respond to reviews. Begin your planning session by learning how to cultivate positive reviews and handle negative ones.
  • Public relations (PR). Increase positive PR with a plan that outlines weekly PR tasks, such as partnering with micro-influencers or answering Help a Reporter Out (HARO) questions.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO). Use a free SEO checker to assess your website. Evaluate the results to develop SEO goals and outline your next steps. Learn more about key SEO strategies for small businesses, and explore additional free SEO tools you can use to enhance your efforts.
  • Social media. Choose one channel to optimize during Small Business Month. Create a channel-specific strategy that ties into your overall social media marketing plan. Brainstorm ideas using our strategy guides for TikTok, Facebook (Meta), and Instagram.
  • Video marketing. According to Wyzowl, 90% of marketers have reported a positive ROI from their video marketing efforts. Find inspiration with seven unique ways to leverage video content for your business.
  • Time management. Devote more time to business growth by concentrating on core tasks that add value to your company. Categorize your activities and consider automating tasks to streamline your processes (and your to-do list). Once you have your list of core responsibilities, explore smart habits to boost your productivity.

[Read more: 6 Strategies for Building a Strong Brand]

2. Amplify your brand on social media

Social media remains a crucial way to connect with your audience. It drives traffic to your website, increases sales, and builds consumer trust. Examine your social media strategies and pick at least one channel to concentrate on this month. Devote 10 to 15 minutes every day, then assess your metrics at the end of the month.

Complete one or more of the following activities:

  • Share the inspiration behind your company using the hashtags #SmallBusinessWeek (and/or #SmallBusinessMonth) and #MySmallBizWhy.
  • Craft a catchy theme for a social media giveaway and develop a multichannel promotion plan.
  • Refresh your social media cover images and bios, and verify that all links work correctly.
  • Give employees and contractors access to branded social media assets for public sharing, such as memes, infographics, and videos.
  • Test out a new social media tactic or platform for 30 days.

Unsure where to start your social media efforts? Here’s our guide to choosing the best social platforms for your business.

3. Recognize your employees

Morale improvements can increase employee retention, enhance corporate culture, and boost productivity. Indeed, happier employees are one sure-fire way to grow your business. Recognize their contributions by giving out Small Business Month awards. Highlight one or two staff members each week for a unique quality or value they bring to their teams.

Take these steps to award your staff and promote your small business:

  • Develop a write-up for media outlets that summarizes the upcoming awards.
  • Create a profile template for gathering employee details.
  • Take a high-quality image and make a short video of each team member.
  • Produce multichannel content promoting individual team members.
  • Showcase Small Business Month awards on your website.

In addition to creating public-facing initiatives, take time to show gratitude to your employees during the work week. Consider hosting an employee appreciation lunch or a teamwide outing to keep morale and engagement high.

4. Upskill yourself and your team

Business growth relies on professional development. In short, as your business grows, your team must level up as well. Encourage your staff to set aside time during Small Business Month to improve current skills or learn new ones. Facilitate these efforts by offering training or sharing resources for free online courses, and providing mentorship and other professional development opportunities.

Follow the links below for free resources, events, and tools:

[Read more: 5 Ways to Find an Employee Upskilling or Reskilling Program]

5. Outsource non-core tasks

Outsourcing social media tasks or administrative roles frees up your time to focus on growth-related workflows. Moreover, partnering with third-party contractors can provide better results, as they’re experts in their sector just as you are in yours. For instance, social media agencies are at the top of their game, aware of the latest trends, and able to invest in advanced software tools that may be unaffordable to non-agencies.

Review your time management strategy and identify tasks you could outsource, such as:

  • Social media marketing.
  • Copywriting.
  • Graphic design.
  • Bookkeeping and tax preparation.
  • IT management.

Think about how outsourcing could help you achieve goals like increasing your email opt-in rate or social media engagement. Plus, don’t forget to replace that free time with revenue-generating activities.

6. Improve profitability

Profitability improvements stem from decreasing costs while increasing productivity, efficiency, and inventory turnover rates. It requires visibility into your finances and dedication to accomplishing broader business objectives. Select tactics that improve your cash flow and help your company grow on multiple levels.

Here are a few methods and resources for scaling your business:

  • Consider federal contracting. Increase revenue by bidding on government contracts.
  • Explore grant opportunities. See what grant programs your small business can qualify for, and look into the application process for each.
  • Develop passive income streams. Monetize your website or social channels with ads or affiliate links.
  • Increase purchase frequency. Regularly communicate with your customers and recommend timely or related products.
  • Sell on other platforms. Consider selling on multiple platforms, such as Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy.
  • Update financial forecasts. Increase visibility into financial growth by writing a financial forecast for your business. Consider investing in financial projection software to streamline the process.
  • Boost average transaction value. Improve in-store displays, offer product bundles, and make it convenient to add last-minute items to online orders.
  • Increase your inventory turnover rate. Explore ways to move items quickly and improve your inventory management processes.

In addition to optimizing for SEO, it’s best practice to ensure your website is accessible to users with disabilities.

7. Delight and engage existing customers

Customers are the lifeblood of every small business. As such, higher customer stickiness and retention rates increase your profitability. Concentrate on your clients this month by understanding their experiences and striving for improvements.

Boost customer engagement with these tasks:

  • Update or launch a loyalty program to increase the frequency of sales.
  • Form a brand ambassador program and give customers the tools to promote your business.
  • Automate post-sale surveys to capture the voices of your customers.
  • Follow up with clients and have systems in place to document interactions.
  • Listen to a few customer service calls to spot-check quality standards.
  • Build a customer referral program and reward clients for sending friends your way.
  • Plan campaigns for the “Get to Know Your Customer” days (third Thursdays of January, April, July, and October).
  • Show appreciation for your customers — small tokens like handwritten notes and celebrations of customer milestones can go a long way.

8. Prospect for new clients

Grow your business by focusing on lead generation activities during Small Business Month. Begin with your current and historical sales figures, categorized by product or service groupings. Identify core areas or sales channels to focus on and develop a list of sales activities your teams can use to reach their goals.

Consider updating a sales funnel or building a new one. You can also participate in a local small business event attended by your target market. Remember to collaborate with marketing and customer service teams to get a clear picture of your customers and their journeys.

Start your sales prospecting efforts with these CO— by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce articles:

9. Optimize your website

Is your website at the top of the search engine results page (SERP)? Website design and SEO improvements can increase conversions and search engine visibility.

Follow these tips to optimize your website for SEO:

  • Assess your website regularly. Use HubSpot’s website grader to assess your site and view recommendations. Also, consider running an A/B test. This is where you change one website element affecting conversions, such as your main call to action (CTA).
  • Leverage SEO resources. Google Marketing Platform offers free tools for small business website optimization.
  • Conduct keyword research. Consider each keyword's search intent, volume, competition, and value.

In addition to optimizing for SEO, it’s best practice to ensure your website is accessible to users with disabilities. Review the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and guidelines for web accessibility.

10. Bolster your marketing efforts

Connect with your target audience and provide value with informative content and relationship-building activities. Ensure each task supports a strategic goal and allocate time and resources to each objective. Use metrics to gauge progress and define how the tactic increases profitability and business growth.

Expand your marketing efforts by:

  • Creating a new lead magnet to increase email sign-ups.
  • Applying SEO techniques to your YouTube channel or Amazon products.
  • Updating your profiles on Google Business, Yelp, and other business directories.
  • Responding to reviews, both positive and negative.
  • Completing one or more HARO responses.
  • Publishing an article in an industry or local publication.
  • Recording a webinar or livestreaming for your target audience.
  • Setting aside 30 minutes to perform keyword research.
  • Coming up with one new content idea per day.
  • Answering questions on Quora.

[Read more: 7 Marketing Trends Every Small Business Needs to Know About in 2024]

11. Leverage AI

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has made its way into several business applications, helping business owners and their teams automate tasks and streamline processes.

Not sure where to start? See how AI-based tools can improve various aspects of your business:

  • Customer service. As customer demand for quality service increases, AI-powered customer service tools can fill in the gaps. Consider leveraging AI chatbots to answer basic queries, sentiment analysis tools to understand how your customers feel, or intelligent routing systems to connect customers with the right (human) support team member.
  • Graphic design. Try AI graphic tools that can simplify photo editing, from removing backgrounds to applying custom color palettes and fonts. Some even allow you to generate graphics from text or rough sketches.
  • Content writing. Generative AI tools like ChatGPT for your business can help you brainstorm content ideas and draft marketing copy, saving you time and overcoming writer’s block.
  • Online sales. Applications of AI for e-commerce businesses include personalizing the shopping experience, identifying fraudulent purchases, and analyzing customer data. Determine one area that would have the biggest impact on overall sales and growth, and research prospective solutions.
  • The hiring process. If you’re looking to expand your team, AI can streamline hiring by fairly sourcing and screening candidates, as well as potentially reduce (unintentional) bias. Not ready to bring AI into the actual hiring process? Start small by looking into tools that can automate scheduling and messaging applicants.

Keep in mind, however, that there are some things AI can’t do for your small business. Consider which elements of your business can be automated, and which are better met with a human touch. Focus your AI efforts on the former, so you and your team have more time and energy to devote to the latter.

This article was originally written by Jessica Elliott.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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