If you're thinking about getting a small business loan, you might plan on using those funds to buy inventory or hire more staff. But, there are other ways a business can leverage capital to achieve new heights of success—some of which you might not have considered.
In fact, it's often the most unconventional business investments that turn out to be the most beneficial. To inspire you, we're giving you five creative ideas for leveraging small business loans from our customers who've used a Kabbage line of credit.
1. Take a second look at insurance
Health insurance is something that nearly every small business owner considers for themselves and their employees. However, there are other types of business insurance that you may want to consider investing in as you begin to grow. With an infusion of cash, these types of policies can be well worth the investment:
Business owner's policy (BOP)
While you can purchase separate policies for liability, your property and your vehicle, this policy package can save you money and offer a greater amount of coverage. A comprehensive BOP will include business interruption insurance, property insurance, vehicle coverage, crime insurance and liability insurance.
Professional liability insurance
Also called "errors and omissions insurance," this type of coverage provides defense & damages for failing to or improperly rendering professional services. Professional liability insurance is beneficial for independent consultants, specialists & contractors such as lawyers, hair stylists, accountants, consultants, real estate agents and technology providers.
If you have employees, you need to have workers' compensation to provide wage replacement and medical benefits for them if they're ever injured while on the job. This type of insurance can protect your business from serious legal repercussions.
2. Remember to do business continuity planning
Of course, there's a lot more that goes into being prepared than just buying insurance. When you're growing a business, it's difficult to plan for all of the "what if"s. But it's a reality that bad things—from natural disasters to information technology problems—happen unexpectedly and could halt your business.
You don't want your crucial business assets getting blown away.
Interestingly, business owners are not as likely to invest in business continuity as in many other aspects of their business. According to a survey of small businesses conducted by Regus, nearly half of businesses had no IT business continuity plan, and only 43% had a workspace continuity plan in place.
Investing in business continuity planning can seriously save your business if the unexpected should happen. This starts with creating the framework for both notifying customers and reinstating the delivery of your products & services after a disaster has occurred. This includes emergency contact information, backup suppliers and a detailed recovery plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a variety of resources to help you get started.
As mentioned earlier, one very important aspect of a business continuity plan for nearly every business is technology disaster recovery. Business funds may be well-spent on working with an IT expert who can help you create a specific IT plan that outlines exactly how your business will:
- Minimize operational disruption
- Minimize risk of delays
- Ensure security & reliability of backup systems
- Restore operations as quickly as possible
3. Delving into market research
You probably conducted preliminary market research prior to your launch in order to understand your customer base, learn about your competition, and determine the right prices for your products & services. However, market research continues to be valuable as you grow. While not always the most popular way to use business funds, it can result in a substantial amount of new business if it's used effectively.
Market research can help you when you're developing a new product or service. It can also prepare you for a shift in the industry or enable you to test out new pricing structures. Basically, market research lets you get valuable feedback about what your market thinks of you and what you sell. There are two types of market research methods that you can invest in—primary and secondary.
With primary research, you're finding out for yourself about your customers & market. This can be accomplished through focus groups, surveys or questionnaires. There are many options for business owners to conduct primary research, including inexpensive online survey tools like SurveyMonkey. If you want to reach your customers in their natural habitat, consider conducting polls & surveys via social media sites like Facebook & LinkedIn.
Secondary research is acquired by a third party. Thanks to the internet, there's a wealth of sources of secondary research available out there about your competitors, your local area, your industry and more. While this information is accessible, it can take time to find and process. You may not have the extra hours necessary to conduct DIY research. If so, it may be worthwhile to hire a market research agency or a consultant to help you analyze a specific type of information that you need to take your business to the next level.
If you'd like to learn more about market research, Kabbage has created a "What is market research?" hot-sheet available for download.
4. Tackling on-the-ground public relations
A strong public relations strategy can dramatically increase your business' success. Being able to publish press releases on a regular basis can generate some great online buzz—a big component to reaching new customers. To really get your name out there, however, offline public relations are often necessary. Reaching out to your local community can be accomplished through events, sponsorships & partnerships. This may be something you want to tackle alone or with the help of fellow businesses or nonprofit organizations.
Investing money in local PR can result in media appearances that can spawn valuable visibility to attract droves of new customers. However, it's important to know that PR can be tricky and is often best put into the hands of a professional. A qualified PR agency with deep industry & local media contacts may be the most beneficial way to generate value from this business investment–and a business loan is a great way to invest in a PR agency to help you show real results.
5. Investing in wellness
The productivity of your employees is essential to sustaining and growing your business. Yours is, too. If you're knocked out of commission because you've developed a painful case of carpal tunnel syndrome after too many years of managing data entry by yourself, it could seriously jeopardize your business. To keep business humming, there may be no better investment than in wellness. Ergonomic chairs & desks are a great start. Lighting & air quality are also incredibly important. Belts for lifting heavy items or even a forklift can prevent costly back injuries.
Other ways to build more wellness into your business can include offering healthy lunches for your team, regular yoga or meditation sessions with a local provider, or a great health insurance plan that covers preventative care.
When you've received a business loan, carefully assess the best way to use your funds and what will bring back maximum returns so you can easily pay off your loan and continue to grow in other areas. By making the right choice now, you'll increase the value of your business and strengthen your financial footing in the process.
If you're interested in learning more about how Kabbage's platform lending technology can leverage your business data to provide business loans in as quick as one day, visit Kabbage.com.