If you were handed an extra $1,000 in cold, hard cash to spend on your business, what would you do with it?
Now that’s a question that gets the creative juices flowing! How do we know? Because we asked it.
As the year winds to a close and 2017 budgets are on the table, we posed the question to nearly two dozen entrepreneurs. Their answers were as diverse as their businesses themselves, but they all had one thing in common—they’d use the money on something to make a tangible difference for the company.
As you plan your own investments for the year ahead, here are 23 clever, creative and downright kooky ideas to invest $1,000 back into your business.
- Improve SEO
“One of the most efficient strategies I've found for marketing is continuing to improve my web presence through SEO,” says Charles Dugan, owner of American Image trade show display provider.
“People often talk about SEO like it is a thing that you do once and then never again, but that simply isn't the case. Doing SEO right is a constant struggle of improving your website and web presence against what it currently is and it never really ends. Still, with the results it's given me, I would gladly put another thousand [dollars] into it.”
- Test New Ad Mediums
“I’d love to test out advertising on LinkedIn—both sponsored content and text ads,” says Kimberly Barnes, founder of copywriting service ContentPark.
80% of B2B leads generated on social media reportedly come from LinkedIn.
“The biggest complaint we’ve heard about LinkedIn ads is their high minimum CPC ($2.00) and daily per campaign ($10). That leaves us a bit cautious. So, a little extra cash would yield an opportunity to see if LinkedIn ads are actually worth the higher investment.”
- Add A Fun Distraction
“If you have an extra $1,000 to spend, you should buy a Foosball table,” suggests Steve Benson, founder and CEO of field sales mapping app Badger Maps.
Benson says having a common activity is invaluable because it helps team members get to know each other, deepens relationships, and gives people a way to blow off steam together.
“Foosball is a simple but surprisingly fun game, and anyone can play it. It cuts across gender, culture, and natural physical ability so that everyone can play. The positive impact on company culture to have something that anyone can do together is hard to beat!”
- Outsource Your Accounting
“When you’re first starting out and trying to get a small business up and running, sometimes the business upkeep gets in the way of actually creating and improving your product or service,” says Ben Coltrin, owner of custody scheduling tool Custody X Change.
“One of the best ways to spend $1,000 would be to pay for someone to help with that upkeep, such as a part-time or outsourced bookkeeper or accountant. While it's nice to know where my business' money is going, I don't like getting bogged down with accounting and tax formalities.”
We couldn’t agree more!
- Create Content
“I'd spend it all on creating more content, both as a way to help existing users in the area of my work and also to promote what I'm working on,” says John Turner, CEO of QuietKit, a meditation service for beginners.
Creating content is a valuable way to position yourself as an expert in your field, not to mention boosting your search engine traffic.
“There are only so many hours in the day, and getting help creating more content that can help your existing users as well as attract new users is invaluable.”
- Secure More Advanced Equipment
“If someone handed me an extra $1,000, I would use it to help fund the purchase of a cryogenic freezer,” answers Julie Shipley.
No, Shipley doesn’t have some wacky medical experiment in mind. She owns The Soup Shop, which ships homemade soup nationwide. The freezer would help increase her margins in the long run.
“A major stumbling block has been the expense of shipping the soup by 2nd day air,” she explains. “If I had a cryogenic freezer I could get the soup much colder before transit, thus allowing me to ship by ground. This would reduce the cost drastically to the customer and I believe it would boost sales tremendously.”
- Appreciate Employees
“As a small business owner, my employees are a top priority; they are family,” says Brad Schweig of Dallas-based Sunnyland Furniture.
“I would express my appreciation and gratitude for their hard work and dedication. I firmly believe employees who feel valued in the workplace perform better and take more pride in what they do. A fun day at Dave & Busters is a great way to let off some steam, strengthen employee relationships and boost morale.”
- Attend a Trade Show
“I would graciously take $1,000 and attend a Natural Health Food Show that just wasn't in the marketing budget,” says Jacqueline Darna, CEO and inventor of natural nausea solution NoMo Nausea.
Darma explains that this show in particular would represent an untapped sales channel for her brand.
“If we had $1,000 to invest, I would trial the product at this order writing show. Although money doesn't grow on trees, I'm sure I could turn $1,000 into $2,000 attending the show in this new market.”
- Hire Some Extra Help
“I would spend the money on a virtual assistant to help with social media posts and marketing as well as copywriting,” says Sara Frasz of Royal MajesTees, a graphic t-shirt and apparel shop.
According to VirtaTalent, the marketplace for outsourced digital services like virtual assistants will reach $5 billion worldwide by 2018 as more and more businesses use them.
“As a solopreneur, I often struggle to ‘do it all’ and would love to have a competent VA to help with the areas that I am not as experienced in.”
- Boost Ad Budgets
“After running my small business for over six years and doing my own PR on a shoestring budget, I’d drop $1K straight into an Instagram ad without thinking twice,” says Lori Cheek, founder and CEO of online dating app Cheekd.
According to the Instagram Advertising Benchmark Report released in June of 2016, the top spending e-commerce brands experienced a 62% increase in the return on their Instagram ad spend over previous three-month periods.
“I think it’s the fastest, smartest investment that could lead to a hefty ROI. It’s so simple, clean, and in-your-face advertising and I find it very non-intrusive as a successful ad platform.”
- Launch A Customer Referral Program
“I'd set up a referral program. No matter what type of business you're in, you can use referral incentives to grow your business,” offers Toby Balsiger, owner of website design firm Website Tigers.
“I'd use the $1,000 directly as incentives for my clients to keep sending me referrals.”
(Psst—we talk more about getting great word-of-mouth referrals in this post)
- Spread A Little Cheer—and Brand Awareness
“Without hesitation, I would buy skincare product ingredients and launch my Zen It Forward Campaign,” says Julie Breaux, founder of Zen Squared, an online aromatherapy shop.
“Zen It Forward will send products out to people who are struggling in life and need some zen to carry them through!”
- Run AdWords Campaigns
“Without a doubt, if I had an extra $1,000 to play around with, I would run ads on Google Adwords,” says Max Robinson of Fish Tank Bank.
“They're not just excellent for driving targeted traffic to your website, they can also reveal huge amounts about the effectiveness of your website, your content and the products that you're promoting. Compared to the data that you get from Google Analytics, the data that you get from your Adwords campaigns is incredibly insightful.”
- Promote Your Yelp Listing
“We have found our best return on investment has been paid with our Yelp page sponsorships,” says CEO Bryan Clayton of GreenPal, a lawncare referral service.
Clayton says his company has tested ads on all the major social media platforms, and Yelp has outperformed them all.
“We find the traffic that we get from Yelp page ads converts 67% of the time into a paying customer, and we simply cannot top this one any other paid channels. I believe this is because the traffic we get from Yelp is solely people at the bottom of the purchase making process and they are ready to buy.”
- Show Appreciation for Your Clients
“Throw a party, buy gifts, or send gift cards. Something to show the people that matter the most to business that they actually matter,” suggests Josh King, founder of Tinderbox Consulting.
“This appreciation is something we try to build into our work on a daily basis, but the extra money would allow for a grand gesture!”
- Run A Giveaway
“I'd use it for two $500 Christmas giveaways,” says Mike Catania, co-founder and CTO of savings community PromotionCode.org.
“We've done holiday giveaways before and the publicity that comes from it is well worth the investment.”
- Create Branded Promotional Items
“I would probably order t-shirts and coffee cups and that sort of thing branded with our logo,” says Rebecca Miller of pie bakery Peggy Jean’s Pies.
Miller says it would be nice to invest in something she’d typically consider a non-essential.
“We are often asked by our customers for that sort of thing, and we just don’t have the spare extra working capital for that sort of purchase.”
- Create Engaging Videos
“I'd hire a videographer,” says Mark Aselstine, founder of wine delivery service Uncorked Ventures.
“First, I'd want to get a video made of one of my suppliers. Second, I'd want an unboxing video or something similar for one of my gift baskets. The idea would be that using video on our site should help conversion rates. Also, high quality video is something that I think I could pitch to bloggers to cover, hopefully leading to better SEO results and more traffic onto the site.”
Video is, in fact, a highly useful conversion tool. According to a report by EyeView Digital, having a video on your landing page can increase conversion rates by up to 80%.
- Eliminate Debt
“I would use it to pay off some of the debt I have accumulated this last year,” Gari Anne Kosanke, founder of Bead Lovers Korner.
Many solopreneurs can relate to Kosanke’s situation; a recent death in the family forced her to put her business on hold.
“Anyone who works for themselves knows that if you aren’t working, you're not making money. To keep things going and pay expenses I had to take some small loans, so now when each month rolls around I owe creditors and sometimes need to pay them before I can buy more inventory or advertise.”
Investing $1,000 would go a long way to getting out of debt, she says.
- Enlist Influencers for Reviews
“I would spend an extra $1,000 on social media influencers (bloggers, vloggers, etc.) to review my product and do unboxing videos,” says Kim Van, owner of spice subscription service Flavor Flights.
“Since I'm new on the scene, my number one priority is to get seen and make the world aware that I exist. In my opinion, ads are of little value. People really buy something because someone they know or like vouched for it. As a new biz, I need to have searchable reviews out there so people feel comfortable buying from me.”
It’s true; in one survey, 88% of shoppers said they trust online reviews as much as referrals from a close friend.
- Network, Network, Network
“I get almost all of my new clients through networking and referrals,” explains Dorien Morin-van Dam, owner of More In Media.
“If I had an extra $1K to invest, I would sign up for a large business-related conference. These run anywhere from $250-$1,000+ each! If I had any money left over, I would use that for newly printed business cards, a new outfit, a great haircut and then tuck away the last bit for lunch/dinner money so I could chat one-on-one with my newly made acquaintances during the conference.”
- Gather Customer Feedback
“I would invest in getting customer feedback via a survey,” says startup funding strategist John Livesay of SellingSecretsforFunding.com.
“To get plenty of feedback, I would use part of that $1,000 as an incentive to get people to fill out the survey. It's been proven that when you listen to your customers—and get valuable feedback—you can pinpoint the problems they have. To have a successful business, you must identify problems and be the solution provider for those problems.”
Livesay explains that people are willing to pay for solutions to their problems, so the more knowledge you have, the better your offerings for them will be.
- Sock It Away
“Every business needs a rainy-day fund,” explains IgniteSpot’s very own CEO, Eddy Hood.
“If you don’t have one, take your $1,000 and start one now. When you need it—and trust me, that day will come—you’ll be so glad you put some savings away.”
How would you invest $1,000 in your business? Have you made a wise investment that paid off? We want to hear about it! Leave us your thoughts in the comments section.