Would you spend $1 million on tech, marketing, or advertising?

What would you do if someone just gave you a million dollars for your business? No strings attached. No questions asked.

According to the Staples Small Business Owner Success survey two-thirds of small business owners would spend it on either technology or marketing and advertising.

We’re not talking about the desire for the latest wearable tech (although, hey, put us on that list), but the fact that, bread-and-butter technology investments allow us to do more, innovate faster and work smarter. No matter the size of your small business, three reasons an investment in technology make sense:

Do more from our mobile phones: Let’s face it, more and more applications allow us to do more jobs and tasks from our mobile devices.

Work remotely: Surveys have shown that telecommuting makes for happier workers. Let’s untether them and allow them to work from home. And switch over their laundry between client calls.

It’s the way the world is moving: If you don’t keep up, you’re behind. And let’s face it, the younger workforce is born with a smartphone in their hand. We need a work environment that allows us to keep and engage the best talent.

But if I was given a million dollars, sure, I’d spend some on technology. Why? Because I want my small business to do more with the people I have. My ten people are very busy right now. But we’re never busy enough. I want them to be busier! I can always think of more things for them to be doing. We’re always looking for that next project, that big deal, that fantastic new client.

And, we want to grow our companies. So sure, if I got a million bucks I’d want to spend some of it on marketing.

But I’d also want to invest this money in my people. Only 20 percent of the business owners surveyed said they’d use the money on bonuses and/or gifts for employees, and just 7 percent said they’d use the money for employee development programs.

Let’s think about this: while we know the small business owners surveyed said they’d spend that million dollars on marketing and tech, every single successful small business I know knows that their success is do to the employees behind all of this.

So let’s recognize the balance – the importance of updating technology, the fact that a smart marketing campaign can generate more business that lets you hire more employees, but let’s also look at our talent and how we can do more with them: adjust salaries, increase compensation plans and put in new and better benefits to make people happier and attract the best people they can. Yes, more than two million people apply to work at Google each year. This is for many reasons. But the biggest is the investment they make in the development of their employees. That’s how they create a valuable, profitable company for the long term.

So someone’s giving you a million bucks? Take a look around. The real profits are probably staring right back at you. Invest in them. And update those computers. But invest in your talent. That’s what I’d do.

Check out the Staples Small Business Center with tips, deals and products to help make more happen at your small business every day.


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