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20 Smart Investments That Propel Startups Forward

Every penny counts when you’re starting a business with limited resources, and where you allocate your capital can significantly impact your trajectory. Listening to the investment ideas and experiences of seasoned entrepreneurs who have navigated the challenging terrain of limited funds can help you make smarter decisions about your own spending.

Here, 20 Forbes Business Council members share the strategic investments that helped propel their ventures forward. Follow their advice to maximize the impact of your financial resources.


1. Focus On Quality Not Quantity

When funding is limited, the best investment is talent. The focus should be on quality, not quantity. A quality addition to the team can make a difference in how fast you can grow your business. By doing this, you can quickly duplicate yourself. Do this as often as possible until you identify a team leader that can continue this pattern. – Dr. Elange NathanElange Education Systems


2. Join A Business Mentoring And Development Group

I invested in a business mentor and joined a business mentoring and development group. To this day, I have a business mentor, although now they are much younger than me. When you’re starting a business with limited funds and passion but perhaps not much business experience, learning from others who have been there and done that is invaluable as they can challenge and support you. Keep doing this. – Jaqui LaneThe Book Adviser


3. Hand Off Low-Value Tasks To An Assistant

Even when you have limited funds, invest in an assistant. Think of yourself as a CEO of a major organization and ask yourself whether you should be doing this task. There are $10/hour tasks, $100/hour tasks, $1000/hour tasks and $10,000/hour tasks. Exert your energy on high-paying responsibilities and save the low-value tasks for your assistant. This tip will help you scale up and grow faster. – Angie NollReconciled Solutions


4. Hire An Advisor And The Right Team

When your business is new, it’s important to hire an advisor who is more experienced than you, can vet your ideas and help you avoid costly mistakes. It’s also important to hire the right team of people who are strong in the areas where you’re weak. Having a team where each member is operating in their zone of genius allows you to build your business on a strong foundation. – Ellie ShefiMade to Change the World, Inc.


5. Think About Future Growth

There are several early investments that felt frivolous at the time but, on reflection, were the right decisions. The first decision was finding an executive coach to support my personal growth whilst building a business. The second decision was finding a CRM system that was more sophisticated than we needed, as we knew one day we’d grow into it. The third decision was getting a finance expert who did way more than accounts—she understood our strategy and is now our CFO. – Sarah GoodallTribal Impact


6. Focus On Customer Acquisition

There are few problems in business that landing new clients will not solve. When starting a business with limited funds, investing in customer acquisition is key. You do need to have a solid strategy for client attraction and the ability to fulfill deliverables for these new clients. As a rule, when funds are limited, only spend money on things that will make you more money. – Billy StickerChiroCandy Marketing


7. Use A Reliable Customer Relationship Management System

Investing in a reliable customer relationship management system early on is crucial. It streamlines customer interactions, data management and sales processes, enhancing efficiency and customer satisfaction. This foundation supports scalable growth and fosters long-term customer relationships, making it a valuable asset from the start. – Deyman DoolittleShipSigma


8. Set Up Your Personal Brand To Foster Trust And Gain Visibility

I invested in my personal brand from the get-go and that has paid off multiple times over. Having an authoritative and highly visible personal brand means that prospects and potential partners come into conversations trusting me—and by extension my company—from the very start. People do business with people, so invest in the face(s) of the company. – Jason BarnardKalicube


9. Create A Great Product

The main thing for a great start is a team and a product. This doesn’t mean that you need to hire top executives from corporations, but you do need to find people who will believe in the idea of your product. The main thing you need to invest in is creating a great product. Marketing can be free in the beginning—there are many zero-budget mechanics. If your product is great, leverage word-of-mouth marketing. – Anna BelovaDEVAR


10. Outsource Tasks To Save Valuable Time

As an entrepreneur, knowing what to invest in is key to understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Outsource what you need help with and focus on what you love to do. For me, hiring an accountant and assistant was instrumental in my initial success as an entrepreneur. I was not bogged down with invoicing or admin work, allowing me to deliver great results to my clients. – Angela QuachThe Destiny Lab


11. Invest In Your Personal Development

I invested in myself and my personal development, whether through books, online classes and coaches or mentors. These have helped me to scale my business and learn from those who have already tried, failed and succeeded. Investing in learning from the best in the game is what has allowed me to set myself apart from my competition in the industry. – Lissele PrattCapitalixe


12. Spend Time Learning

When I first started out, I was keenly aware of what I didn’t know and was determined to educate myself. Early classes in website design, simple coding and social media strategy helped me not only when I was building first versions myself but also later when I hired a team to take over. Investing in my own early skills made it easier to choose and work with an experienced team. – Illana RaiaÊtre


13. Invest In Collaborative, Scalable Platforms

I invested in a collaboration platform and started to use it with my other two co-founders. When the team grew, the platform grew with us. At this moment, we have over 150 people working on the same platform. In summary, invest in a process to streamline your business whether you have 1 or 200 employees. – Kim Laurens MarkwatLight Tree Ventures


14. Create A Team Of Passionate, Capable Individuals

Invest in talent! Having passionate, capable teammates is imperative when building something from scratch. Finding individuals who show up every day excited to do whatever is necessary, have the requisite knowledge or adaptability to take on the tasks at hand and are flexible enough to pivot as the company grows can make all the difference for a young company. – Ruchi DesaiEIGHT Brewing Co.


15. Accelerate Your Success With Professional Coaching

I chose to invest in professional coaching. This decision was pivotal to accelerating my success in my personal and professional development. Coaching provided tailored guidance, accountability and support, enabling me to refine my vision, learn from my early failures and enhance my leadership capabilities. The investment was undoubtedly worth it as it significantly sped up my business growth. – Bianca B. KingSeven5 Seven3 Marketing Group


16. Invest In Top-Notch Legal Representation

Investing in top-notch legal representation during our company’s early stages was instrumental. It helped us establish a robust foundation, navigate complex regulations and protect our intellectual property through well-crafted contracts. By securing the right legal support tailored to our needs, we bolstered investor confidence and laid the groundwork for sustainable long-term growth. – Soheila YalpaniTerraScale Inc.


17. Focus On Your Marketing And Accounting Needs

Invest in accounting and marketing. In the early stages, many companies choose to sit back and relax when it comes to their marketing investments. Knowing market trends, staying competitive and identifying pain points is vital. Additionally, while laying the foundation of your company, hire an accountant or a freelancing financial firm that will help you forecast your financial needs. – Aditi JaiswalTechtrust Inc.


18. Avoid Spending Money To Win In The Long Run

This may sound odd, but the best investment I ever made was to avoid spending money. Every penny is oxygen you need to breathe. The more time you have, the more chances you have to win. You’d be surprised at how much you can get done without spending money, especially if you have employees who believe in you and will work for equity instead of cash. – Evan FalchukFamily First


19. Choose How To Deploy Your Capital Carefully

It is essential to carefully choose how to deploy capital for maximum impact. For example, a robust digital presence across industries is the most important in the current environment. This includes a professionally designed website and digital marketing, as well as SEO, social media, and email campaign strategies. These investments will allow you to reach and engage with your target audience efficiently and most cost-effectively. – Julia RodgersHelloPrenup


20. Recruit And Retain Top Talent Early On

Investing in top talent early on pays off immensely. A best-in-industry employee not only elevates your business through expertise and experience but also sets a high standard, catalyzes growth and brings valuable networks. Despite the high initial cost, their impact on innovation and competitive edge can be transformative, making it a crucial strategic investment for a startup. – Benjamin PieningHoneycomb Programs Inc.




Collaborative article by 20 Forbes Business Council members, including Lissele Pratt, and originally published on

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