Small Business owners often get told “invest in your business”! The idea being, that spending a little now will pay you back later in dividends of growth and higher profits. But deciding where and how to invest in your small business isn’t always an obvious question. Fortunately things aren’t as complex as they seem.

It seems like there are endless ways to invest in your small business, but when you really get down to brass tacks, there are only two essential ways of investing in your small business.

The Two Ways You Can Invest in Your Small Business

You can invest time in your business, or you can invest money. And that’s it.

Any investment that seems more complicated than that can be boiled down to one or the other if you look at the fundamental costs and results.

They share an inverse relationship: you can spend more time in order to save money, or spend money so you can save time.

You can also buy more of one with the other, by paying money to do something in order to gain time, or spending time doing something yourself to save money.

But there is one difference between the two.

You Can Borrow Money, but you Can’t Borrow Time

This is the biggest trap that small business owners fall into. Taking on debt, even a small amount, is a taboo based on fear, fear that their business will fail and they’ll be worse off financially than when they started. Instead, they work themselves to the bone, putting in long hours day after day after day, driven by a fixation on saving money by not spending it.

If you choose the right people for the right tasks, the result will be that your business grows enough to pay off your debt ahead of time and then some. But if you try to do it all yourself, your money just sits there while your business stops growing because, try as you might, you can’t add hours to the day.

That’s why it’s called “investing” and not “spending”. Money you put towards improving your business’s performance will get paid back, and then those improvements will keep putting extra money into your bank account, money that you wouldn’t have gotten if you hadn’t put that initial chunk of change down.

Deciding How to Invest in Your Small Business

Do you want to know the easiest way to decide how to invest in your small business?

Get out your to do list and find the thing that’s been on there forever, the thing that is what you think of when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, the thing that you know you need to get done yesterday but you just keep finding ways to avoid.

Then hire someone to do that thing for you.

I promise, the feeling of relief that comes from getting that thing off your list at last will be worth at least what you spend to not have to do it yourself. And now you have the freedom to spend more time on the thing you love enough to build a business around it.

And if that doesn’t help you decide, try this: what is the biggest thing that is keeping you from feeling ready to invest in your business? Is it your marketing? Production capacity? Your current sales rate? Those road blocks won’t magically clear themselves out—but you can invest some time or money into clearing them away so that the way forward is wide open for you.

Invest in Yourself

Remember what I said about the sense of relief you’ll get by taking action on a task you’ve been dreading? That’s a wonderful side benefit of investing in your business, and getting rid of all of those nagging worries taking up space in your brain will make you feel less harried and stressed out.

Investing in your business is also investing in yourself.