How smart investments can help a business grow
Paperless Post hired a company to make sure emails with its invitations and cards bypass email spam folders. “We knew this idea was dead in the water if we couldn’t be excellent at delivering e-mail, ” says CEO James Hirschfeld Robert Deutsh
In 2010, Christopher Lynch and Michael Samer turned their passion for adventure into a business. Offering guided kayak tours and selling sporting apparel, their company Everyday California enjoyed modest growth for the next couple of years.
But the La Jolla, California-based company’s expansion was a mixed blessing. “We had up to 400 people coming in and out of what was essentially a 582-square-foot shack,” Lynch says. “We didn’t have enough room for our equipment or even to check people in.”
So Lynch and Samer invested more than ZAR 3141825.00 in 2014 to build out a larger location. The bigger space lets them increase their staff from four to 60 employees, offer more tours and sell a greater range and quantity of apparel. The investment paid off. Revenue increased by more than 180 percent between 2013 and 2015,
“Our instincts and growth projections were right,” Lynch says.
Conserving cash is always a concern for entrepreneurs, but investing in systems, software and equipment — and as Everday California’s experience demonstrates, space — can enable owners to take on new business, save money and grow revenue.
How to Know Where to Invest
Not sure what areas of your business to spend money on? Siblings James and Alexa Hirschfeld, co-founders of Paperless Post, offer three questions to consider:
1. What separates your business from your competitors? Invest in tools and technologies that can make your company stand out even more.
2. What are your biggest weaknesses? Spend money on systems or processes that can lessen their impact.
3. Where can you cut costs? To find money to invest in your business, reduce spending in areas that will have a minimal impact on the bottom line.
“If you’re not reinventing yourself, evolving your value proposition every three years, you’re falling behind and becoming irrelevant,” says Patrick Stroh, president of Burnsville, Minnesota-based Mercury Business Advisors where he works with small businesses on innovation, product development and growth strategy. “The only way I know how to continuously, consistently evolve your value proposition is to have a relentless focus on innovation.”
Of course business owners must know where it makes the most sense to spend. New York-based Paperless Post, lets people create customized online and paper invitations and cards and it’s critical that online cards and invitations bypass spam filters and make it to their intended recipients’ inboxes — which isn’t as easy as it might seem. The solution? Paperless Post invested in a contract with Return Path, a company that has products that helps emails make it into customers’ inboxes. “We knew this idea was dead in the water if we couldn’t be excellent at delivering e-mail so with our extremely limited budget, that was where we put ZAR125673.00 really early on,” says co-founder and CEO James Hirschfeld.
For Greg Goodman, owner of an Alta Mere automotive accessories store in Oklahoma City, rebranding and installing new equipment led to increased sales. As part of the rebrand, Goodman purchased six digital menu boards that would show video demonstrations and updated price guides for different products. The boards cost ZAR2073.60 each and maintaining them requires a ZAR439.86 monthly connection fee.
The digital boards saved Goodman and his four employees time, letting them change displays instantly, while in the past, the store had to have printed displays prepared and delivered. The boards also appeal to consumers visually. The store has seen a 15 percent increase in sales since the rebranding was completed. “If we don’t change with the times, we will have a competitor come in with all that new technology and we won’t be able to keep up,” Goodman says.
Investing in your business doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money. There are low-cost tools that can make a difference. For example, Quickcuts Media, a video production studio in Nolensville, Tennessee with two full-time employees and about 20 contractors, saw its business grow by 60 percent in the past year after they switched to the free e-invoicing platform Taulia. The system lets Quickcuts Media access receivables early by giving vendors a discount. “That allows me to invest in my company and keep on going,” says owner and president Michael Valletta . “Any business that’s not looking forward is going to get lost.”