While time in the market beats timing the market, not everyone wants to wait decades before reaping the benefits of a good investment -- especially if you're an entrepreneur working to scale a business. Fortunately, if you're a short-term investor, you have a variety of lucrative options.
The strong economy is ripe for leveraging. Not only are you in a strong position to raise price points and add new service lines or products, but you're also well-positioned to bring money in from other funnels. While some entrepreneurs have become jaded as a result of their interactions with investors, this is a way to reverse the tide and become an investor yourself.
Where you put your money, of course, depends on what you want to do with it. To grow your money without losing access or hurting your cash flow, consider these short-term investment opportunities:
Why would an individual retirement account work for short-term investing? Despite the name, Roth IRAs are one of the most liquid options for investors looking for a fast return.
While traditional IRAs take pretax contributions, your Roth IRA contributions are taxable at the time of deposit. That means you can withdraw your money without penalty whenever you need it. Because Roth IRAs normally serve as retirement accounts, funding one gets you access to some retirement-specific investment vehicles, such as mutual funds, with a variety of risk tolerances and return timelines. Mutual funds carry a low risk of losing money, which makes them great if you're a gun-shy entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, there's nothing more fulfilling than establishing a successful business. A close second, however, is when you're able to help others establish thriving companies. Peer-to-peer lending connects business owners with investors interested in supporting their companies, offering a strong alternative to standard bank loans.
By reviewing a fellow entrepreneur's goals, plans, and positioning in the marketplace, you can make an investment using your own business savvy. And because the loans are extended via an electronic platform, not through a bank, you can set the criteria for the loan, including the term and the rate. This gives you control over the length of the loan while eliminating the overhead and maintenance banks have to provide, meaning more straightforward profit.
A common -- and dangerous -- instinct most business owners share is a desire to invest in their own industries. While this makes logical sense -- the more support your industry receives, the more likely it is to grow -- it's not financially smart. If the industry experiences a downturn, it's not just your business that takes a hit; your investments will, too.
Research burgeoning industries, particularly those that can benefit your own. AI, machine learning, and automation platforms are growing fields that have applications in a wide variety of other industries. By investing in companies that supply these types of products and services, you not only fuel the growth of those industries so your own can profit quicker (automation alone can give you incredible time savings), but you also can help secure yourself against winds blowing in your own industry.
While growing a business, I invested in a company building a platform to connect APIs. This was immensely helpful to my own company, and I saw a return faster than I earned a profit. I was able to bolster my company with that investment return.
Your Own Debt
Surprised? Don't be. Paying off your debts may not sound as fun as watching your business's bottom line swell, but in many cases, you'll make more by paying down debt than by investing.
Debt payoffs make sense in cases where the interest rate on the debt is higher than the interest rate on the investment. Say you expect the stock market to grow by 10 percent this year, which is an above-average rate. If you invest $10,000, you'll make $1,000 in one year on that investment.
On the other hand, let's say your business is carrying $10,000 in credit card debt. The average credit card charges an interest rate around 19 percent. If you put $10,000 in a 10 percent stock market, you'll make $1,000, but by the end of the year, your credit card bill will have grown by $1,900. In that case, you would have been better off paying your debt down and investing later -- your company actually lost money.
Whether over a few years or decades, actively investing generally beats leaving your business's money in a savings account -- or putting every cent back in the business. Don't expect to turn $10,000 into $100,000 within a couple years, however. The biggest gains still come from the longest investments. That said, if you want to make some quick cash without risking your business, these four vehicles provide great opportunities.