An entrepreneur with a good business head, common sense and a strong work ethic is already well on the way to success. But just relying on personal drive and revenue creation often isn’t enough to guarantee success. What’s needed more than that is making the right long-term investment decisions for your business.
The question, however, is which investments to make? There are so many options out there, all of which seem like a good bet. Whether you’re a novice or a veteran, here are the places you should invest in your business for a killer return on your investment.
The main way in which companies fall behind their competitors is through their use (or lack of use) of technology. According to data from the Bank Of England, the productivity of companies in the same sector can vary by as much as four-fold. That’s astonishing, and it suggests that many companies have a long way to go when it comes to technology.
One of the reasons for this disparity has to do with IT. Some computers are suited to the office environment while others are not. Having computers that are well-maintained and respond quickly when used by workers, such as Dell computers from ITC Sales, increase productivity and avoid people in your office pulling their hair out because the IT equipment doesn’t work properly.
Customer-facing businesses can also benefit massively from new technology. The opportunities provided by things like touch screen payment systems and tablet cash registers is helping bring down the cost of doing business all the time.
Online businesses who need to coordinate people over vast distances can also take advantage of the latest technology, like Slack, to keep in contact with their colleagues and discuss projects. With a combination of Slack messaging and Zoom teleconferencing, it’s often possible to recreate the office environment online, without any of the time wasting that usually goes on when people have to commute to work.
The challenge with technology is to find those techniques that will take work away from your startup at the lowest possible cost. Buying accounting software is a heck of a lot cheaper than hiring a team of accountants, for instance.
Fund Other Startups
One common mistake that entrepreneurs regularly make is thinking that they have to invest their money only in their own startup. But the truth is that the growth potential of most startups is limited, often because their market is so niche.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should just leave your money languishing in the bank. Instead, it’s a good idea to think about where else you could get a good return. If you know an entrepreneur with a great business idea, plough some of your money into their business and make a profit that way.
There are also a bunch of crowdsourcing websites online, like Indiegogo and Kickstarter that enable entrepreneurs to find exciting opportunities anywhere in the world and take a punt on supporting them.
Supporting another startup is a great idea from a networking perspective too. Often you can use complementary companies to enhance your own brand and get your message out to new markets.
Attract Smart People
Startups are nothing without the right people. That’s why it’s important to find and hire the best people to keep productivity and morale high. Smart people are needed for everything from making sure that operations go smoothly to discussing business strategy and which direction the company should take.
Top entrepreneurs invest their time and money in their colleague, nurturing them and helping them to become more productive and more expert in their work. Being supportive and nurturing contributes to reducing turnover, which can be crippling for startups.
Many startups do quarterly one-on-one feedback sessions which are a chance for staff to air their grievances if they have any, and for managers to suggest the next steps for their career and how they could improve their work.
You could also invest in something that people like Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett say is critical: reading lots of books and filling your mind with ideas so that you can see the connections between problems that other people can’t.
Social Media And Publicity
Many entrepreneurs think that if they build it, people will come. But almost no business puts a website on the internet and then starts getting calls from interested customers. Instead, what startups usually do is create some sort of buzz around their brand.
More often than not, this buzz involves social media – the new platform for business.
The first step of achieving greatness online is to make sure that your website is on the money. Having a website that is mobile-friendly is essential for making sure that you get found. Modern websites should also have features like “click-to-call” and instant signups for downloads and newsletters.
The next step is to target top social media sites that are appropriate for your business. For instance, if you’re setting up a food business, Instagram is probably your best bet. If you’re running a B2B software business, then most of your energies should probably be directed towards LinkedIn which tends to attract the most business users.
Social media can be used for all sorts of ends, including educating customers about your products as well as generating brand loyalty.
Because many social media platforms are now so saturated, it’s often necessary to pay for advertising to get your content in front of people. Facebook advertising, for instance, allows companies to pay money to get their content in front of their target audience. Facebook allows businesses to tweak their settings so that they reach the right people.
Unless you have somehow reinvented the wheel, your business will be in direct competition with others. Startups who want to be successful need to keep an eye on their competitors and try to find out their strengths and weaknesses. Often a new entrant into a market can quickly gain market share by exploiting a particular weakness and doing a better job. In-depth research on your competitors can help your business find new verticals or product opportunities that another company hasn’t seen.