When it comes to investing in one’s business, sacrifice are made in terms of time and money. Before and during the investment process some research needs to be considered bearing in mind the trends of the industry. You want to take into consideration your target demographics that you sell your product or service to. Then you want to invest in your company and innovate your product or service based upon the changes on the demographic groups that purchase the goods of your company.

Founders of some of the most successful businesses invested back into their businesses to make sure their businesses thrive in the midst of challenges. Bill Gates of Microsoft and Frank Vandersloot CEO of Melaleuca repeatedly invested in their companies to ensure their continual growth and prosperity. And when it comes to technology, there is usually a period of training that needs to be accounted for.

For those looking to invest in their companies, the areas that should be considered are: Technology, Research and Development and Cross Training

–Know when to embrace new technology

Finding new and innovative technology is important. It can help companies innovate and improve their products or services, but some companies over-invest in new technologies and lose site of their original mission and vision. Know when to use new media to improve and promote your business. Measure their impact on your business and stick to what works for various departments.

Staying current with new technology is important, but not all products and services will benefit every business equally. For example, the average landscaping business does not need a very sophisticated computer and printer, and can get away with using Excel over QuickBooks. However, a pharmaceutical company needs much more sophisticated equipment, especially for internal use.

In other words, if you are a business owner, only go after the innovative technology that you actually need to improve your business. If there are technologies that are overly expensive and your business can get by with out it, then it is most likely the wise thing not to invest in it.

–Allocating R&D Funds

Whether a company is on the top of its game or floundering toward the bottom, there is an equal need to be innovating, even if it’s only 1% of the budget. An example of this can be found in the cautionary tale of The Fish That Swallowed the Whale, by Richard Cohen, about the banana business. Until the 1960’s the world’s most popular banana was The Big Mike, a large and hardy fruit with a thick skin. People loved The Big Mike, but it was susceptible to disease.

The United Fruit Company, then the biggest fruit company in the world, hired scientists to combat this. Meanwhile, Dole began growing other varieties of bananas that were not as big or tough, but also not susceptible to disease.

United Fruit ended up following in Dole’s footsteps, but found that the new bananas bruised easily. Dole solved this problem by inventing the banana box, and it wasn’t long before Dole became #1, and United Fruit fell far to the bottom of the corporate chain.

The lesson to be learned here is that companies need to be constantly researching their own products and how they can become more innovative. It often costs money and time to do this kind of research, but the business world is very competitive and this is really the only way that companies can keep up. So whether you are selling a product or a service, it is a good practice to be innovative and try new things to get ahead of your competition.

–Cross training can prevent major disruptions

One of the major lessons that can be taken from United Fruit was that Sam Zemurray, who saved the company in the 1930’s, never mentored anyone to run it as well as he did.

Cross-training is incredibly important, be it for the position of CEO, customer service, purchasing, or shipping. If a person leaves and no one can fill his spot easily, there can be major disruptions. It is always easier to hire employees to a new or higher position because they have been cross-trained than it is to hire a completely new employee who has little to no experience in that particular position.

By investing the proper amount of time and money, businesses can thrive. Investing in your own company will help keep you competitive with other companies that may sell similar products and services. As investments are forgone, the company will slowly sink, appearing buoyant at first, but eventually succumbing to the inevitable.

Author: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she  studied communications. Lizzie enjoy the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3 years ­old husky Snowball.

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