You may have heard of the tradition of saving your first dollar from your first sale. Mom and pop stores have them framed near cash registers or tucked lovingly into office drawers. It serves as a symbol for the toil and joy of building a business.
So you’ve earned your first dollar(s), and now you’re wondering what to do with them. Here are some of the best ways to invest and reinvest your company’s first profits.
1. Business improvement
Most startups spend their initial profits in reinvesting, and your company should be no exception. The key to reinvesting is to have a sound strategy, not to necessarily devote a certain percentage of your profits. Your reinvestment efforts should be in line with your current strategic plan.
Most business owners choose to reinvest their profits in business improvements – for example, infrastructure, equipment, streamlining business processes, or finding ways to improve the customer experience. These are all valuable strategies because they can increase your profits in the long run, allowing you to expand business operations.
Digital marketing is always a smart investment of profit, when it’s done well. Many of the startups I’ve seen over the years wait several months before they do any real investment into marketing. Sometimes it’s because they just don’t know where to start. You can’t lose by investing in performance metrics. Always keep track of your campaigns and adjust them accordingly. If you have little experience with marketing, consider outsourcing to an agency.
3. Invest in your team.
Building a better workforce will streamline your business, improve productivity, and create the kind of company culture that will attract hard workers. Reinvest profits in human resources initiatives such as training and continuing education. As your company grows, you can expand to include benefits packages and other discounts. Investing in your employees early on will help you reduce turnover. Keep in mind, hiring a new employee costs a lot of money – about six to nine months of a lost employee’s salary, on average.
4. Invest in yourself.
Find ways that you can improve yourself in subject matter expertise. For example, many startups are spearheaded by people with a good eye for innovation but who don’t necessarily know how to manage people. This is actually one of the most common criticisms founders face. Classes on management or basic business operations can be invaluable for people who don’t come from a formal business background.
5. Hire help
To that end, entrepreneurs are also guilty of trying to wear all of the company hats. Recognize when you need help, and ask for it. New hires can provide the technical skills and know-how to keep your operations running smoothly. This is one of the best investments you can make in the long run.
6. Consider coaching
If you’re unsure of how you should create your strategic plan, consider using some of your profits to hire a career coach. These professionals can provide guidance on executive leadership, creating a business strategy, talking to investors, and handling conflict between employees, among other things.
7. Outsource your least favorite tasks.
We all have a dreaded task that sucks some of the joy out of running a business. For some, it’s balancing the books or running payroll. For others, it’s assessing and tracking the efficacy of marketing campaigns or content creation for the company blog. Fortunately, you can outsource most of these to third parties. Find someone qualified and hand over the task.
8. Improve your SEO.
First, if you launched a company without a website, create one. Second, spend some time, money, and energy getting that website to the top of Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). For the uninitiated, Search Engine Optimization is a tricky beast, but you’ll get the hang of it (or find someone qualified and outsource it). The small business administration offers a useful primer on the topic, as well as other resources. If you’re looking for a way to see a significant return on investment in a relatively short time, this is one way to do it.
9. Create a cash buffer.
While reinvesting in your business is great (and necessary), make sure you’re sitting on enough cash to handle problems that may arise. While your business insurance policies will cover the disasters and catastrophes, it’s always advisable to have liquidity available for when you really need it.
10. Don’t diversify too early.
Many budding entrepreneurs make the mistake of diversifying their investments too early in the process. 401k plans are great, but you could be using those dollars to grow your business. Stocks and bonds are important, but so is building your empire. To invest your first profits, start with what you know. No one knows your business like you do, so it seems like the natural place to start.
Diversification and 401ks can come later. For now, enjoy your first profits by putting them back into the fruits of your labor. Take care of your employees and customers, and your profits have a better chance of growing organically. With time and proper investment, you’ll soon be poised to open another location or expand to a new market. Reinvestment will always be a smart business move.
by JOHN BOITNOTT