Congratulations! You just received the funds you have been after. Now you have some wiggle room. But even though the deposit has been made, it doesn't mean the transaction is over. The next step is to figure out what you'll do with the money.
That's a problem that can keep you up all night. Thinking about all the products and services, hardware and software that your business could use, and that you can finally afford, can make your head spin.
So early on in your business venture, it can be tough to tell apart spends that bring short-term benefits from the ones that will take your business to the next level.
Take time to prioritize investments. I don't know what kind of operation you have going on, but chances are it will benefit greatly if you focus on these universal, key areas.
5 Smart Ways to Use Business Loan Proceeds
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Give Consumers What They Want
Don't give in to bias. Take a step back and take a look at what you are offering to your customers. What are the products and services that your clients keep seeking out?
Be honest with yourself. Your offerings build trust with your customers.
Is there anything that's not going as well as you thought it would? Get rid of it! Invest in tried and true revenue drivers. The numbers will guide you.
Update Your Equipment
Who isn't guilty of waiting until an important piece of computing or manufacturing equipment breaks down to replace it? Sure, that's one way to stick to your cash while you can.
But think about all the delayed orders, missed deadlines, and clients you'll have to turn down while you are waiting for replacement machinery to arrive.
Buy it now and avoid all that stress in the future. It might be expensive, but is it as costly as an emergency replacement?
Beef Up Your Operations and Marketing Tech
Updated business technology can help you gain critical insights about prospects and customers. Moreover, it will help you protect your startup from data-loss disasters and nightmarish hacking that can cripple your entire endeavor. The right tech will keep you safe and help you find efficiencies at the same time.
Think about customer relationship management (CRM) software. It can boost a business that's already in growth mode by helping keep track of customer support, purchase, and interaction history.
Such software can provide you with the automation of email marketing and sales processes. By employing such tools, you will make sure the client, your most valuable asset, is treated as a priority.
Good software will also help prevent scams. Beware, hackers are not targeting just huge corporations. Smaller businesses are easier targets. When it comes to identity theft, businesses are just as susceptible as consumers. Make sure you are well protected in the digital realm.
Hire a Financial Advisor
Tech won't solve all your problems. Your accounting software can't think outside the box. Consider hiring a tax expert who can help you write off business expenses when filing taxes, as well as take advantage of tax deductions that you didn't even know existed.
It dawned on me when I needed help filing taxes for the first time. The accountant I had hired helped me save a ton. I had no idea a truck driver can write off his laptop as a business expense. That's a lot of money in the eyes of a twenty-something trying to make it in the world.
You don't need me to tell you how that can translate to your startup. When my partner and I started our medical transportation business, my accountant was the first person I thought of. Although that's not his specialty, he pointed me in the right direction.
You might be good at managing your finances and accounts, but a pro is always better. And if you don't have any experience, don't take your chances. For example, if you still haven't learned to separate personal and business accounts, don't invest another penny until you get some help in that department.
Pay Down Your Debt
If you use a company credit card or have a bank line of credit or unsecured business loan, that debt is probably carrying a higher interest rate than the funds you've just received. Don't feel bad about using part of your loan to return another.
You can significantly improve your business credit score by paying down your high-interest credit balances. So, next time you are in need, you'll qualify for more funds with favorable interest rates.
Being a good entrepreneur means knowing what you don't know. If you are not sure how to invest in your business, talk to others in your industry who have the experience and are happy to help.
Ask your staff for advice; they'll value your interest. You are not the first one to face this conundrum. Be wise and be calculative.
Michael Deane is an editor of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.