Retirement Planning for Small Business Owners

It’s not uncommon for business owners to consider their businesses as their retirement plans. At retirement age, the plan is to sell the business for cash, or to give the business to a family member in return for a share of future wealth. It might work out, but it’s risky, because if your business fails, your retirement plans end up in shreds. Short of bankruptcy, a troubled business would be hard to sell and bring in less money than anticipated. Many owners might face the prospect of delaying retirement until the business “picks up.”

It need not be this way. An orderly approach to retirement planning will help you provide for your later years independent of the ups and downs of your business. Here are five steps to take to save money for retirement:

Do the math:

Figure out how much money you will need for your retirement lifestyle, especially if you don’t receive a lot of money from your business. This is frequently a wake-up call to get your retirement plan moving. Check out online retirement calculators from financial service companies such as Vanguard, TIAA and Fidelity and many others. Use these resources to help you nail down future spending.

Get help:

You are probably an expert on your business, but don’t assume that extends to retirement planning. If you don’t have a solid finance background, hire a financial adviser to organize your retirement planning. It’s a good idea to use one who charges a flat fee rather than one who takes commissions on your trading. The best ones usually have an accreditation, such as Certified Financial Planner.

Begin a diversified retirement plan:

You don’t need to spend a fortune on your retirement plan, but you should make a long-term commitment to it. It will cut your current taxes and allow your money to grow tax-deferred. Here are for options that make sense for small businesses, suitable for sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations:

  1. SEP-IRA: A good choice for one-employee companies, because you must fund the plan for all employees. Its works like a traditional IRA, but in 2018 you can contribute up to 25 percent of total compensation or $55,000, whichever is less.
  2. SIMPLE IRA: A plan for owners of companies with up to 100 employees. You and your employees make pre-tax contributions directly from your paycheck. The 2018 contribution limit is $12,500, or $15,500 if you’re 50 or older.
  3. Solo 401(k): Good for self-employed. You can contribute up to 25 percent of your compensation, plus up to $18,500 ($24,500 if 50 or older) in employee contributions, for a total maximum up to $54,000 in 2018.
  4. SIMPLE 401(k): For business with 100 or fewer employees. You and your employees can contribute up to $18,500 a year. You can borrow from your account and make no-penalty withdrawals under certain circumstancees.

Invest simply:

Index funds are simple and cheap, and you will always get average performance, year after year. If you know when you are going to retire, you can buy into a target-date fund that adjusts its investments based on your age. Consider also a REIT investment.

Pay yourself first:

When business gets slow, it’s tempting to cut back on your contributions, and that might occasionally make sense. But resist the temptation if you can, your retirement will thank you for it.

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