A good investment for your business does not always have to come with a hefty price tag. In fact, sometimes it is the simpler solutions that help you work better and faster in the long run. The key to identifying those solutions is by focusing on how “smart” of an investment they are for the longevity of your business.

Here are a few questions you should ask before committing to any investments in your small business:

  • Will it save you time?
  • Will you get a return on your investment?
  • Will it improve your workflow?
  • Will it improve the experience customers have with your company?
  • Will it make your workplace and the jobs your employees do more enjoyable?
  • How long-lasting will the effects of this change be felt?
  • Will this give you the chance to consolidate tasks, roles, etc. so you can reduce waste and work leaner?

A smart investment should help bring about as many positive changes for your small business as possible. Remember: this is about protecting your business now and investing in its future, so a smart investment ideally should do both.

12 Smart Small Business Investments

Here are 12 smart investments every business owner should be making in their small business:

1. Office space

Renting or purchasing office space may seem like an unnecessary expenditure when you are first launching your business, but that will soon change as your company grows. Your best bet is to get a space that you can grow into, but that is not too overwhelmingly large.

2. Hardware

If you want your small business to continue running like a well-oiled machine, you need to invest in reliable equipment. Beyond that, if you are looking at equipment to support your company’s long-term efficiency and innovation, you will want something that will make your operations run as well as a large corporation (without the high cost). Think of something like the Xerox WorkCentre multifunction printer.

3. Cloud-based software

Thanks to the Internet, software no longer needs to reside on CDs or hard drives. A connection to the Internet and a small monthly fee is all you need to access the app of your choice, which means you can stay productive and work on your business wherever you go. Also, cloud-based software is scalable, so it will grow as your needs change. Check out these apps for entrepreneurs if you have not already.

4. Streamlined workflows

You may be thinking that you cannot “invest” in the work that flows through your company, but you most certainly can. There are always smarter and faster ways something can be done, and your business’s workflows—whether they relate to your day-to-day processes or how you use company equipment—are no different. An investment in streamlining workflows will benefit everyone in the long run.

5. Smart devices

Smartphones are not going anywhere, which means it is time to embrace their usage at work if you are not already doing so. Invest in the creation of a mobile device management program and encourage and teach employees the best ways to make the most out of their smart devices for work.

6. Security

There’s no time like the present to invest in your business’s security. This refers not only to the physical security of your office space and equipment, but to the digital data captured by your website, software, and other company systems. A document and endpoint security management plan is a good place to start.

7. Company website

Once you have invested in the internal parts of your business, it is time to look outward at the digital face of your company. Even if you’re running a brick-and-mortar store and searching only for local business, having a high-quality website can greatly improve awareness (and credibility) for your business.

8. Marketing

In addition to a website, your small business needs to expand its presence everywhere else online—especially if you are trying to reach a younger audience. Social media is the first place to look. You will also want to design beautiful and informative marketing collateral that can be printed and/or shared digitally with prospective customers. By using high-quality templates, you can save yourself time in creating these and ensure consistency across the board.

9. Education

Whether you are a small business owner or the CEO of a major corporation, there will never come a time when there’s nothing left to learn. Make a small investment in your professional education on a regular basis. Subscribe to industry blogs and magazines, listen to podcasts, and follow thought leaders on social media.

10. Workforce

One of the best investments you could make for your business is in outsourcing. As a business owner, your primary focus should be building and growing your company, but you cannot do that if you are distracted by finances or scheduling client meetings. Hire reliable and committed individuals to support you in your mission, and then invest in your team’s happiness.

11. Clients

Your employees are not the only ones who will reward you with loyalty if you make their happiness a priority. Invest in your clients’ happiness by fostering better relationships with them. Give them a welcome packet when they sign on with you. Send a gift to commemorate their one-year anniversary working with you. And work with your team on providing the very best customer service experience.

12. Yourself

Last, but not least, if you want to invest if your small business’s long-term success, then you need to invest in yourself. Hire a business coach or identify a local mentor to guide you. Sign on to your local Chamber of Commerce or purchase a membership to another local organization, and build a supportive community around yourself. And don’t be afraid to go to industry events. You will learn a lot and make some great connections there.

There’s nothing that says an investment needs to be a massive expenditure that puts your business in the red. That is why the small investments suggestions above are “smart.” They do not require an enormous monetary investment and yet they ensure positive outcomes for both the short- and long-term.

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