When it comes to making investments in your small or midsized business (SMB), you know you need to spend wisely. After all, you’ve only got so much cash on hand. As the marketplace evolves, though, you may not be sure where to put those hard-earned dollars. Here are five necessary investments most SMBs should consider.
- Marketing & Advertising
In today’s lightning-fast economy, it’s not enough to cast a wide marketing net and hope your customers will somehow find their way to your business. It’s important to market to customers personally. Click segmentation is one such personalization technology. It allows you to personalize emails to customers based on their stated interests or prior purchases – especially valuable to businesses that have an array of products.
Advertising on social media is also gaining in popularity as a primary way to reach customers. If you’re not already putting marketing dollars there, you may be behind the curve. Facebook advertising in particular is becoming increasingly competitive, meaning you’ll pay more for it in the future. Better to gain a presence there now before rates become prohibitively steep.
- Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
You may already employ automated call answering that guides customers through prompts to get them where they need to go. But imagine what would happen if your call answering software was also able to recognize complex speech patterns, categorize requests, and create databases of information about customers that could be used now or in the future. That’s one application of machine learning that companies are beginning to use.
Artificial intelligence in general will have a greater impact on SMBs going forward. Taking that huge quantity of data your business generates and putting it to good use for customer acquisition, business processes, and financial investing will be increasingly important for gaining an edge on your competition.
- Capital Equipment & Improvements
With the new tax laws now on the books, this is the perfect time to think about investing in capital equipment and improvements. The new law doubled what businesses could deduct for equipment from $500,000 to $1 million per tax year, and you no longer have to depreciate the expense. Economists expect businesses overall to see increased cash flow. If yours is one of these businesses, you may want to take this opportunity to upgrade your business equipment.
Similarly, you may want to rethink your physical workplace. As employees shift their behavior, telecommuting becomes more prevalent, and tech tools create more flexibility, you might consider altering the design of your work space. Now could be the ideal time to make those capital improvements.
When we think of hacking threats, we inevitably think of data being compromised at large corporations. But the reality is that most cyber attacks (as much as 61 percent, according to a Verizon report) occur to SMBs. Spend money now on antivirus software, firewalls, data backups, or encryption and password security applications. It could save you plenty later.
For even more protection, you might consider purchasing some sort of cybersecurity insurance. Such insurance can help you recover losses and legal fees associated with a data breach.
- Business Services
Now might be a good time to make an investment in business services available to help your company become more successful. Whether it’s financial guidance or technology support, tax advice or bookkeeping assistance, your investment in the knowledge and experience of other companies might pay big dividends in the future.
Modern accounting services, for example, can combine the benefits of automated processes with the expertise of industry professionals to offer your business an efficient and reasonably priced accounting and tax preparation option.