When bills are piling up and expenses seem endless, the idea of spending money on something potentially non-essential might seem, well, insane. But as a small business owner, you have to be thinking about the investments that’ll make your business grow, too—otherwise you might not have a future at all.
When you’re sizing up investments to set up your business for success, remember that smart investments will almost always get you further than simply popular or big ones. These key investments that make real sense for small businesses. By using your cash on hand, or some help from small business financing, you can spend on these ideas to help you grow.
Hiring a Consultant
By your very nature as a business owner, you’re passionate about area of expertise. If you’re a CPA, you’re used to everyone knocking on your door come tax time. If you create bespoke furniture, you know which vendors offer the best rates on lumber. But what if the idea of content marketing makes you sweat? Or your business website looks too outdated to attract the right customers? Sometimes, you might not know what you don’t know—and the best solution is to reach out to subject-matter experts.
Meeting with an independent consultant about your specific business needs can help you grow and save you money in the long run. There are HR consultants who handle internal employee disputes, digital marketers who can take your business’s growth to the next level, and many more. Consultants often work on both project-based and hourly-rate payment plans, depending on their business models and your needs.
Spending on Digital Tools
So, you’ve recently launched (or relaunched) your website—and it’s perfect. The visuals are exactly what you envisioned, and your product images are stunning. Many site-building platforms offer basic analytics tools (such as the number of visitors and most popular pages). But more detailed insights—for example, the time your customers spent considering a specific product, or the path they travel throughout your site—aren’t always included. With a more sophisticated digital tool suite for business, companies can create custom dashboards with the most relevant information about their sites.
Beyond your internal site, you can also invest in more sophisticated platforms are also available to help understand your social media reach. Platforms such as Hootsuite or Buffer not only allow you to schedule posts across your company’s accounts, but they also provide real-time analytics about your followers.
Although free versions of these services are available, monthly paid subscriptions often offer improved features and excellent customer service. Learning about your customers and their behaviors is worth the money.
Networking, Both Online and Off
In business, what you know and who you know both help immensely. Connections often lead to referrals, new clients, potential hires, and even lucrative work orders. Curating your network with smart connections is important whether you’re just starting your business or you’ve been at it for years.
Industry conferences and networking events are a great way to meet other business owners in a laid back, friendly setting. And there’s a lot more to these events than schmoozing alone. Inspiring panels with leaders in your industry and conferences that allow you to dig even deeper into event sponsorship programs can both deepen your knowledge of your field. Maybe even inspire you to take a leap of faith on your next business idea.
Conference tickets can range in price from free to thousands of dollars, so do some research and poll your network about their favorite events before you put a dent in your wallet—you want to make sure you’re investing in the right places. And don’t forget: Networking isn’t just about meeting connections face-to-face. Virtual conferences, held online throughout the year, can be a great networking tool as well.
And while you can build your online network for free on LinkedIn, the platform offers a number of paid subscriptions that can create sales leads, give you access to tutorials and business insights, and help you recruit new talent.
Expanding to a Second Location
After months—maybe even years—of planning and dreaming, you’ve finally opened a storefront. And great news: Business is booming. It might be time to consider opening an additional location.
Expanding your business could help you reach new customers. But just as you did before you opened your first location, you’ll need to do your research. We’ll be the first to say that investing in a second brick-and-mortar isn’t for everyone—and in fact, it could be a very costly mistake if you’re not careful. So, you’ll need to determine whether this investment is a smart one for you—because if it is, it could pay off in a big way.
Ask yourself a few key questions, such whether the the market is fit for another location, how steady your current cash flow is, and whether you’re good at delegating and managing from afar. Then, if also you run the numbers and decide that a new storefront is the right move for your business’s growth, you might need to consider either looking for an investor or seeing out business funding. Whether you decide to approach business lenders, start a crowdfunding campaign, or approach private investors, prep your business case and round up your financial documents to prove that your new venture is a sound investment.
Smart Business Investments Now Can Lead to Big Dividends Later
Any investment decision can be nerve wracking, but the stakes are especially high when your small business is at the center of things. You’ll see, though, that the right investments are well worth the money, even if the return takes months—or even years. As you continue to grow, you’ll find yourself with a host of investment opportunities that’ll eventually lead to more sales and more revenue.