Nearly half of small businesses fail within the first five years, according to the Small Business Administration. Small business debt paralyzes some of these companies, leaving them unsure of their next move.
This doesn’t have to be you. The good news is that while you might feel pressure to make a difficult decision between building up your business or paying off your debts, these goals can be pursued simultaneously.
Leverage the time you are spending paying off debts by making intentional choices that will ultimately promote the success of your business. Here are 10 steps to getting started.
1. Compare Expenses with Long-Term Plans
Take time to look at your future goals and expected long-term profits. Managing a business requires looking not just at today’s costs, but also how investments will eventually pay you back. Only incur debts that are required to maintain your business. Wait until your business is bigger to purchase the newest equipment available; stick to necessities.
2. Build Credit
Consistently making payments on debts can allow you to build your credit, which you can use for future investments. At the same time, responsibly addressing debt demonstrates to future lenders that you are a reliable borrower.
3. Prioritize Debts
Gather data on all your debts, including minimum payment totals and interest. Start paying more than the minimum on the account with the highest interest. Focusing on one account at a time will enable you to meet goals and put the rest of your profits into business costs.
4. Set Up Automated Payments
Sometimes credit companies or loan servicers offer discounts if you set up your business account so that monthly payments are automatically deducted. This will save money and ensure you don’t miss payments.
5. Reward Yourself
Keep the momentum of a growing business by celebrating when you meet debt repayment goals. Reaching that halfway point of a loan that you have been faithfully paying off is a huge accomplishment. Treat yourself to a dinner out, and then keep up the good work.
6. Consolidate Loans
Debt consolidation — where multiple loans are combined into a single loan — can be a feasible solution to overwhelming payments. A new loan can lower your monthly payments, so that you have money left over to keep your business functioning.
7. Market Your Business Without Spending
Utilize free social media sites to advertise rather than spending money on marketing. Right now you can access thousands of new consumers by taking advantage of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and blogging.
8. Hold Monthly Sales
Once a month, offer a discount on your products and services. You can use social media to get people excited about the sale. Plan to dedicate the extra funds you generate from these events to debt payments.
9. Prepare for Slumps
One way businesses get stuck in a debt cycle is by borrowing during dry spells when sales fall and bills must still be paid. This may force you to fall deeper into debt as you borrow more to stay afloat. Instead, look at industry forecasts and have savings reserved specifically for these times.
10. Get Help
It’s tough to handle debt on your own. When it becomes impossible to make payments or afford to meet business needs, turn to a credit counseling service, so that financial experts can negotiate with creditors on your behalf and get you back in control.
Save where you can, spend where you need to and prevent loans from making your business stagnant. The decisions you make with the resources you possess today can contribute to having a debt-free business tomorrow.