startupculture

Daphne Lefran has been writing about business-related topics for many years and currently writes on behalf of the business budgeting specialists at True Sky. In her spare time, she enjoys capturing moments through a camera lens; traveling to new and far away places and cheering on the Florida State Seminoles. Follow her on Twitter @daphnelefran.

If you are a business owner, you know the importance of keeping tabs on worksheets and making sure budget plans are in check. However, you also know that keeping a perfect budget is a close to impossible task.

When drawing up business plans and company budgets, it may be difficult to justify certain costs that aren’t tied to product or service. But once you get the core operations down, you may find there is some extra wiggle room in your budget.

Spontaneous expenditures and splurges may seem unconventional to the budget-conscious, but some may work to embolden the company culture and brand.

Here are five ‘frivolous,’ yet ROI-positive things your business should spend money on:

1. Budgeting software

One of the main keys to business success is constructing a budget. Yet, there are so many aspects involved in running a business and the small financial details can easily get overlooked.

Some businesses think they can handle their finances manually, but that can quickly become tedious. Modern budgeting software is capable of providing invoicing, book-keeping, payroll, payments and much more, in an effective and automated fashion. Time spent crunching numbers can be better allocated to making critical business decisions. Your business’s financial plan can ultimately reflect its ambitions. Budgeting software can help set specific goals and evaluate the feasibility of potential business ventures much more effectively.

2. Social media budgets

Many young businesses limit their potential for growth by neglecting to spend on marketing strategies. Marketing has always been a great way for companies to gain exposure and attract long-term business. But now with social networking, your company can attain a higher reach, higher conversions, build deeper relationships with consumers, and fully understand what the consumers’ needs are.

Many companies have begun to see the benefits of spending money towards acquiring customers. With the advent of digital technology and online communities, the number of small businesses that have increased their social media budgets is on the rise. Consider hiring a specialist or team to focus on managing social media initiatives. If done effectively, your business can improve its trust, credibility and overall business.

3. Design

First impressions matter. You may have laid down the framework for the production of your company’s product; you may have invested in the implementation of business process management and customer relationship management; but if the company website is hard to navigate, has blurry images and an overall poor aesthetic, you are doing yourself a disservice.

With the digital media landscape evolving, important consumer touch points now largely stem from owned-media channels, such as the company’s website and packaging design. Your website is your home base and your brand image is your company’s message. You don’t have to spend a fortune either, but your design should be professional, functional and consistent. Hiring a designer to communicate your brand’s story and what it stands for, will help illustrate that your business is authentic, legitimate and worth learning more about.

4. Staff perks

Your employees are your best assets. Happy employees make for happy customers and happy customers make for more revenue. If a business leader looks after their team and treats them well, it will appear in the overall work performance and environment. Employees that feel appreciated and content are much more likely to provide excellent customer experiences.

Many industry giants have adopted the ‘work hard, play hard’ mindset into their company culture. Google is proof that nap pods and swimming pools don’t hinder work ethic; in fact, they do the opposite. Google is able to invest the big bucks in their offices; but smaller business can still pour some energy into the office without breaking the bank. Redesign the break room. Get a Ping-Pong table to relieve some stress in between tasks. Surprise staff with an in-office coffee brewer or treat them to some catered lunches. The value lies in your employees’ increased morale and loyalty to your company.

5. Training and education

Training and educational programmes are often the first things to get cut from a budget. But lack of proper training can take a toll on overall productivity. Even if you and your employees are well trained in your respective positions, there is always room to learn and grow. As Richard Branson said, “The day you stop learning is the day you stop living.”

Invest in yourself and your team through webinars, group training and business coaching. Attend conferences and network with other heads in the industry. This training and education can often lead to fresh approaches and new ideas on how to do things differently.

As long as the ROI is positive, these expenses are technically investments that will pay for themselves. Next time you find your business revamping budgeting systems or reallocating funds, remember that thinking outside the box can pay off.

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at elaine[at]e27[dot]co.

Image Credit: Shutterstock