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  • Writer's pictureViolet Maile

5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Start Preparing for Retirement

Retirement doesn't have to be scary. These five tips can help any small business owner prepare for their retirement.

  • Small business owners have to save for their own retirement without company benefits or 401(k) matching programs.

  • There are many ways small business owners can and should actively prepare for their retirement.

  • These five actionable tips can get you started on your road to a financially sound retirement after a career as an entrepreneur.

  • This article is for small business owners who want to plan and save for their retirement but aren’t sure how to start.

Most large companies offer employee retirement benefits plans, such as a matched 401(k) plan, so their workers can save for retirement. But when you work for yourself, you have to take responsibility for your own retirement plan. A Manta survey of nearly 2,000 small business owners revealed that one-third of entrepreneurs don’t have a retirement plan. As a result, many older small business owners are anxious about retirement.

1. Set concrete goals.

When you plan for retirement, start by deciding where you want to end up – living a modest life in an apartment, traveling around the world in your own yacht, or somewhere in between. Knowing the result you want to achieve allows you to start planning.

Think about your long-term career goals and write them down. Consider everything you hope to accomplish (particularly any goals that have financial ramifications). Do you want to pay off your house by a particular date? Set aside a certain amount of money for kids’ college funds? Purchase a boat or a vacation house? Take a certain number of trips each year? Whatever your goals are, write them down, and be as specific as possible with regard to amounts, dates and funds needed to accomplish them. You can worry about sorting and prioritizing them later – the important thing to do first is to write them down where you can see them.

2. Develop a succession plan.

According to the Manta survey, 34% of small business owners don’t have a succession plan in place. But preparing for how to leave your company, and knowing who will take over after you leave, is part of planning for both your future and that of your business.

Another succession option is implementing an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which allows employees to become beneficial owners and provides tax advantages for the selling owner. Whichever option you choose, put everything in writing to prevent any legal problems or confusion for your employees.

3. Build your support team.

Creating a retirement plan for you and your employees requires strong knowledge of investments and tax law. Working with the right professionals can help you plan effectively for every step.

She recommended including each of the following on your planning team.

  • Financial advisor: This person assists with investment and retirement planning, employee benefits, succession planning, and business valuation, as well as general financial decisions such as cash flow, debt and risk management.

  • Certified public accountant (CPA): Hiring a CPA minimizes your tax liability and ensures that your taxes are done properly. A CPA can also help you choose the right retirement plan based on how much you want to contribute in pre- and post-tax dollars.

  • Business attorney: This person ensures that your business entity and any contracts are structured and executed correctly. They also check that your current business format is the best option and advise you on any changes.

4. Plan how you’ll step out of your business.

If your goal is to fund your retirement from the sale of your business, you need to plan early to ensure that it’s ready for potential buyers.

To avoid this situation, start approaching potential successors several years before you plan to retire to find out if they are actually interested in taking over the business. If they’re not, you’ll need to obtain a valuation of your business and start planning for a sale three to five years before you want to retire.

5. Diversify your retirement savings.

Though selling a business is one way to fund retirement, many experts warn about the dangers of relying solely on money from a sale to bankroll your golden years.

Instead, diversify your retirement planning by opening one or more retirement savings accounts as early as possible. These retirement plan options can come in the form of SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, self-employed 401(k)s or a combination of these plan types.

Take retirement one step at a time.

If navigating retirement savings seems overwhelming, work with your financial advisor to create a plan that puts you on track for retirement without compromising your current cash flow or lifestyle.

The best thing any small business owner can do to ensure a comfortable retirement is to start planning early.

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