By Rieva Lesonsky
The Great Recession put lots of small business owners into an extended funk, transforming them into Scrooges afraid to loosen the purse strings. But when it comes to business growth, spending isn’t the same as investing in your business—and a little investment in your company can make a big difference in profits.
That’s why the Capital One’s latest Spark Business Barometer has me smiling: It shows that small business owners are ready to put their money where their mouths are and invest in their businesses’ growth.
Here are the areas where small businesses will be investing for the coming year—and some things you should think about in each of them.
57 percent of small business owners say they will invest in technology and improving business processes. Consider:
- Does your website need updating?
- Could mobile technology such as tablets improve sales or productivity?
- If you still do things like accounting, invoicing or maintaining loyalty programs and customer records by hand, how much time and money could you save using software instead?
One area you may want to look into is adding ecommerce to your website if you haven’t already done so. Just one-fourth of small business owners in the survey have an ecommerce website. If you do have a retail or similar business, know that the future of retail is increasingly hybrid, with consumers eager to buy online and pick up or return products in stores. Offering at least some of your products online can be a way to get your feet wet in ecommerce while giving customers the flexibility they want.
55 percent are putting aside money for unexpected emergencies. Consider:
- Does your business have a disaster plan to protect your business equipment and data in case of a fire, flood or other natural disaster?
- How would you operate if you couldn’t access your location for a week or more?
- What would happen to the business if you were severely ill or injured and couldn’t work for an extended time?
55 percent are putting away money for retirement. Consider:
- You can’t count on selling your business to fully fund your retirement. Put away some kind of backup—anything is better than nothing.
- Talk to your accountant about maximizing your business’s value now—so that when you do sell it, you can get the best possible price.
- If you plan to pass the business on to a younger generation, get them involved now so they can learn the ropes.
46 percent will invest in increasing employee compensation. Consider:
- Have your employees gone a long time without raises?
- If you can’t afford salary increases, are there other short-term financial rewards you could offer, such as bonuses or profit-sharing plans based on achieving individual or company-wide goals?
- How difficult would it be to replace current employees in today’s economy? Are their skills hard to find elsewhere?
35 percent will put aside cash for capital investments. Consider:
- Have you delayed purchasing equipment or other business assets in recent years?
- How could investing in equipment or other assets increase your productivity and profitability?
- Is now a good time to think about purchasing commercial real estate instead of leasing?
As the economy picks up, it’s important to invest in your business so that you can take advantage of opportunities as they appear. Where will you invest?