Just under three quarters (71%) of small business owners say that investing in their company is the key to long term success according to research from American Express. However, concerns about cash flow (30%) to help fund future growth are considered to be the biggest challenge currently facing small businesses, ahead of forecasting the impact of external factors such as Brexit (21%) and prioritising the multiple needs of their business (14%).

With small businesses owners ranking branding and marketing (25%), new hires (19%) and specialist equipment (15%) as the most important areas of investment, American Express asked five small business owners to share their stories of the best money they ever spent to help secure future success.

Company - Smarter:                          

A pioneer in the Internet of Things, Smarter launched the world's first wi-fi kettle in 2013      

Money well spent:          A £100 prototype

Starting Smarter with a vision for an affordable connected home, Christian Lane invested £100 in creating a working prototype iKettle. A £1 million contract followed that enabled the business not only to go into production, but grow and diversify with fridge cams and a wi-fi coffee maker now in its connected home offer.

Company - Uniform2Go                   

Bridgend based manufacturer and wholesaler of school uniforms

Money well spent:         Branding

As a start-up competing for business with established uniform suppliers, Emma Rees invested early in creating a strong brand identify for Uniforms2Go.  Leveraging the identity online, in marketing and in-store, Emma credits the branding as helping establish Uniforms2 Go as a credible business that now supplies The Prince's Trust and more than 250 schools in the UK as well as some overseas 

Company - Server Density              

SaaS (Software as a Service) business providing server and website monitoring to customers all over the world                             

Money well spent:        Technology and Services:

Founded by David Mytton in 2009, Server Density was borne out of a business problem David encountered while running another business. The software solution that was needed didn't exist, so David and a friend, Harry Wincup created it. Continuously checking websites and systems globally to see if they are online and how quickly their pages are loading, the software triggers alerts to the team whenever there is a delay or an error.  David describes the ongoing investment in essential technology required to run Server Density effectively 24/7 as the best money spent on the business.

Company - Each Peach Childcare  Childcare and education service for babies through to five year olds

Money well spent:         Recruitment agency fees

Founder Kate Peach is passionate about childcare and cites a significant agency fee to find a new nursery manager in 2015 enabling her to both grow Each Peach and diversify her portfolio.  Kate has since created Peacharno a childcare training and consultancy service and has ambitions to add five more nurseries to the Each Peach brand.

Company - Catalyst 2                     

Web hosting company managing around 20,000 domains including those of international brands and charities.

Money well spent:        Office environment

Paul Redpath set up his first business at the age of 15 alongside studying and by the time he graduated, Catalyst 2 was up and running. Paul believes his best investment was his first member of staff as well as the expense of the office space and equipment needed to facilitate his first new joiner.  He says the impact on the business and his own work life balance was immediate.

42% of small business owners said lack of readily available cash is preventing them from spending money on their business and nearly three quarters (73%) agreed that they are more likely to invest if they have good cash flow.

Karen Penney, Head of Small Business Services at American Express said: "What these inspiring case studies highlight is that while investment can be critical to small business success there's no one size fits all approach.  As the definition of success is personal to every small business so is the journey to making the right investment at the right time.  For those planning investments large or

small, one of the benefits we offer on our Business cards is extended payment terms and flexible spending limits to help businesses address the challenges of cash flow management."

The five businesses each describe their personal story here www.americanexpress.com/uk/moneywellspent