Down to their last few dollars: 7 successful founders reveal what they'd buy

The Oracles

We asked these successful business leaders and advisers in The Oracles what they would do if they were almost out of money.  Some of their answers may surprise you.

1. "We'd pay for digital marketing."

"We would spend our last few dollars on digital marketing. Instagram is more valuable (and more accessible!) than any retail shop window on Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive.

With your digital presence, you speak to your customers by articulating your brand messaging, imagery, promotions, ethos and more."

—Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, co-founders and creative directors of the global lifestyle brand Emily + Meritt and women's apparel line THE GREAT; follow Emily and Meritt on Instagram

2. "I'd save for retirement."

"My business mission is to help Americans save for a secure and dignified retirement. I would be remiss if I didn't do the same for myself and my family. I would add to my 401(k) with my last remaining dollars.

I am saving not just for a 'rainy day,'  but for the many sunny days ahead as well. Retirement is not the end — it's just the beginning. It doesn't mean I won't work or continue to be driven by my mission. But my definition of freedom is to work because I want to, not because I have to.

Suze Orman: Don't let your money define you
Suze Orman: Don't let your money define you

Saving over long periods of time lets the magic of compound interest take over; so while I will continue to work for others, my accumulated savings will keep working for me."

—Tom Zgainer, founder and CEO of America's Best 401K, which helps clients identify and reduce hidden fees in their 401K plans; connect with Tom on LinkedIn

3. "I'd hold on to the money."

"My first piece of advice is what I call DROOM: 'Don't run out of money.' While growing our business, my husband and I stayed focused on revenue and profit, which I believe is key to our success.

But if I were down to my last few dollars, I would not spend them. I'd personally go out and try to drive sales and revenue. Revenue growth cures all ills."

—Marla Beck, co-founder and CEO of Bluemercury, which was acquired by Macy's for $210 million; creator of M-61 Skincare and Lune+Aster cosmetics

4. "I'd purchase a nice suit."

"When I was starting from scratch and became serious about my career, I bought a nice suit. I noticed that when I was well dressed I had immediate credibility with everyone I met — and myself. I felt a new sense of confidence in every appointment.

Judith Rasband once said said, 'The way we dress affects the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act, and the way others react to us.' Regardless of whether they should, clothes and appearances matter.

While many may think this is superficial or unimportant, you cannot ignore looking your best. Dress for success. It gives people the confidence to do business with you, and that makes a difference."

Peter Hernandez, president of the Western Region at Douglas Elliman; founder and president of Teles Properties

5. "I'd invest in real estate."

"If I were down to my last few dollars, I would invest in land or property that would provide an income and a way to financial stability. I would choose real estate with a high potential for appreciation. Then I would rent it out, using that income to pay off the financial obligations, and saving the rest or reinvesting it in another business.

The beauty of real estate is that you don't have to spend your own money to invest in it. You can lease, find a partner with financial resources, raise private funds, and more.

When you're running low on money, you should maximize its value. When you set a goal, surround yourself with positivity, and visualize your success, a dollar can make all the difference."

Andres Pira, real estate developer, founder and CEO of Blue Horizon Developments, and author of "Homeless to Billionaire: The 18 Principles of Wealth Attraction and Creating Unlimited Opportunity"; follow Andres on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

6. "I'd buy another company."

"I would use it to buy my next company. Most people think a business deal is about the amount of cash now and later, so those are the only parameters they consider. That's probably because most people know how to buy a house — cash plus mortgage; that's it.

However, business deals have many more parameters around the 'cash now' and 'cash later.' So when someone says they want $1 million for their business, respond by saying, 'Okay, let's see how we can get you there.'

Through rapport and tactical structuring of the deal, you can buy a good business with your last $1. If you knew the tightrope is only a few inches off the ground, how fast would you run?"

Jeremy Harbour, investor and mergers and acquisitions expert; founder and CEO of Unity Group and Harbour Club; author of "Go Do!" and "Agglomerate: From Idea to IPO in 12 Months"; follow Jeremy on Twitter and LinkedIn

7. "I'd put it toward Facebook ads."

"Over the past five years, no advertising channel has provided a better or more consistent return on investment than Facebook.  With their laser-specific targeting, we have earned back $10 to $15 in revenue for every $1 spent. That beats everything else we've tried by a long shot.

The key is to drive Facebook traffic straight into a funnel that sells. Don't waste time building a brand. If more companies understood this, they'd be able to generate profits from the get-go and wouldn't be dependent on outside funding."

Russ Ruffino, founder and CEO of Clients on Demand, which helps service professionals attract leads and sales; connect with Russ on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Want to share your insights in a future article? Join The Oracles, a mastermind group of the world's leading entrepreneurs who share their success strategies to help others grow their businesses and build better lives. Apply here. For more articles like this, follow The Oracles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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