Feeling a little sticker shock? Despite knowing interest rates and inflation are up, more than a few business owners are surprised by how much the cost to invest in new equipment has risen. And with good reason: 64% of them were high schoolers or younger the last time inflation and rates approached the levels we’re seeing now.

But the economy continues to push forward, and growth opportunities are there, especially for those willing to invest in them. And for a lot of business owners, that kind of investment will require financing.

So, what are the fundamentals of borrowing successfully in an environment most business owners have never operated in? Here are seven best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Keep rising costs in perspective. Yes, interest rates are higher and equipment costs are elevated, but in many cases the prices businesses are charging customers are up, as well.
  2. Factor in the upside. The increased revenue, productivity, and efficiency generated by newer equipment can far outweigh finance costs.
  3. Support strong cash flow. The right equipment payment solution can give you a lot more flexibility to scale your solution as new revenue opportunities become available.
  4. Guard cash reserves. The most expensive capital is your equity, aka your “ownership” cash. Financing, even at higher interest rates, is far less expensive in the long run compared to the opportunity costs of not having cash available to invest in growth.
  5. Consider usage. By understanding how long you’re going to hold on to the equipment or technology, you can make better decisions about financing, reducing operating costs, and increasing return on investment.
  6. Avoid downtime. While rising costs may tempt you to keep running what you have until you can’t run it anymore, remember that a single instance of downtime can cost considerably more than the increased cost of newer equipment that’s much less likely to fail.
  7. Find the right lender. Ebbs and flows in economic trends often lead to lenders being all-in or all-out with regard to supporting your company with financing. Seeking lenders with a track record of commitment to small- and mid-sized businesses through all cycles is key.