By Jamie Dalzell

Are you a startup that’s just received the good news? Then your idea could soon become a reality! Perhaps you’re a small family business that’s been granted the opportunity of a lifetime? Then your dreams might just come true! Or maybe you’re an established yet struggling business that’s just been given the green light? Then growth might be within your reach!

This news? Your business loan application has just been given the big ‘ol stamp of approval. But where to from here? After what can often be a long and drawn out process, there’s no doubt you’re eager to start putting this cash towards things you’ve been planning ever since you picked out a loan provider and sent in your application.

Before you start spending, pump those breaks. While the possibilities may feel endless, your newfound funds certainly aren’t. In order to maximize the effectiveness of your business loan, you need a detailed, well-thought-out plan that points you in the right direction. What are you going to spend it on? How much are you going to spend? And, ultimately, what are you hoping to achieve?

You see, ‘building your business’ may be a great goal, but ideas that are big on aspirations but light on detail make it that much harder for you to measure the relative success or failure of the loan process.

The end of the loan application process, then, is just the beginning of what could – and should – be an exciting time in your business’ journey. You just need to know how to make the most of it! That’s why today we’re sharing five of the most effective strategies for maximizing the return on your loan investment.

Ready? Then let’s begin!

1. Buy in Bulk and Expand Your Inventory

In 2017, SquareUp surveyed some 7,000 sellers to find out how they’d spent their loans. According to the stats, some 31% of businesses put this money towards purchasing additional inventory. What’s more? This figure more than doubles among retailers, who took the opportunity to expand their product lines, account for seasonal dips, and replenish dwindling stock.

This idea doesn’t just make financial sense, it makes good business sense, too: many businesses lack the early funds to buy in bulk, often resulting in you paying a per-unit premium on smaller orders. With the freedom of a loan, now could be your chance to break free from the shackles of dwindling stock, negotiate discounts on larger orders, and reduce your shipping costs.

2. Invest In Marketing

Social media? SEO? Digital and video? Nowadays, businesses like yours are spoiled for choice when it comes to the marketing channels on offer. Getting the word out about your business is no longer relegated to a small TV spot at 3 in the morning or an awkward radio ad sandwiched between Throwback Thursday and Nickelback’s Greatest Hits (a short segment, admittedly…).

Advertising can range from inexpensive to outrageous (Super Bowl ad, anyone?), which can be difficult to spring for when you’re still getting your business off the ground or, like some, just keeping your head above water.

According to the SquareUp survey, some 6% of businesses put their loan funds towards marketing, and it’s not such a bad idea! With extra cash in your pocket, you can afford to enter the digital age with a website, an SEO campaign, or other forms of online marketing. You could even put your business on television or pull a Better Call Saul and get your face on a billboard.

With the freedom a loan provides, the choice is yours!

3. Hire Extra Help

If you’re anything like most business owners, you probably manage most of the heavy lifting yourself. You stay back late. You throw in extra time over the weekends. And holidays? It’s a word you scratched from your dictionary a long time ago. This isn’t surprising, either: from startup to established company, any successful business places increased strain and pressure on the one at the top. It can be a thankless job, but someone has to do it!

Or do they? Sure, no one can steer the ship for you. Hell, you probably wouldn’t want them to if they could. Yet having access to more cash opens up the possibility of hiring help that can lend you a much-needed hand.

You don’t need to make this a big commitment, either. Full time employees are great, but they’re just one of your many options: there’s part-time, contractors, or even freelancers. Whether it’s menial tasks like data entry and paperwork, or highly skilled jobs like web design, product development, or sales. There’s someone out there to fill most every role, but you need to know how to find them.

Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer are great places to find contractors and freelancers for those odd jobs, while a place like Monster is perfect if you’re looking for permanent solutions. Not only do new employees increase productivity, they also free you up to better spend your time running your business, landing new clients, and developing new strategies. An effective hire could more than pay for itself, you just need to be smart about how you do it, who you hire, and when you decide to make the leap.