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5 Small Business Investments that Pay for Themselves

The Small Business Administration 7A loan program offers up to $5 million in loans for small businesses. While this may seem like a significant amount of money starting out, it quickly dwindles if you don't invest in the proper areas of your business. Instead of throwing as much money at your challenges as possible, identify areas that have strong returns on investment — both long and short term — to use your money wisely.

1. Use a Recruiting Service

A high-quality, dedicated employee is truly priceless, but the recruitment process to find the few diamonds in the rough can be brutal. A recruiter or recruiting service can save you time, energy and ultimately money when they find the right employee to fit your open position. The right recruiting process can give a business a competitive edge, especially for high-demand recruits. A third-party professional recruiter will have access to head-hunting resources and invaluable information like the Fordyce Letter.

2. Developing Employees

Your investment in employees is more than just the monthly salary and benefits you pay them. Even the best employees benefit from training and skills-development help, especially if you want them to keep up with a particularly demanding and obscure skill set. There are also online degrees available that are flexible with work schedules. Instead of hoping they're passionate enough about their job to keep up with honing their own personal skills, bring in trainers or development programs to help them along the path.

Forbes talks with a professional services firm who put a significant portion of their budget into skills development instead of pulling money away from employees. They found that working with their employees in this manner improved performance, retention and workplace culture. It even worked out well for customers, too.

3. Technology Upgrades

Are you still running a Windows 3.1 computer? If you laughed at that, you already know that keeping up to date with the latest technology has plenty of benefits beyond the shiny new features. If you keep old, outdated and malfunctioning equipment at your office space, your employees are going to develop bad working habits to try to compensate for the efficiency lost.

You don't need to be on the cutting edge of technology, but upgrading your workstations every few years and staying on top of major software and operating system releases gives you a way to keep your systems up and running at their peak so you stay in step with your competition. If you aren't sure whether a software or hardware upgrade is warranted, look into reviews for the latest technology and see if the performance updates represent a better value than cash in hand.

4. Employee Credit Cards

Do a lot of traveling for your business? If you're sending your employees to hotels, conferences and other locations far from your control, you need a good way to track business expenses while not requiring your employees cross their fingers and hope they'll get reimbursed someday down the road. Business credit cards are charge cards you issue to your employees and yourself. You get a full statement so you know what got spent and where, making your accountant's life a lot easier.

5. Office Chairs

Nice office chairs might sound like an odd investment, but when the American Chiropractic Association reports 31 million Americans suffer from back pain, it's almost a must for jobs that require eight hours of sitting. Ergonomic office chairs help employee productivity by preventing and helping back injuries, They don't have to break the bank either. Many cities have office surplus and overstock stores where wholesale furniture is available. Ergonomic chairs also come in many configurations and price ranges, even when you're purchasing new.

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