Small business owners are better at starting up than they are at winding down, experts say. According to a recent report conducted by The American College, 40 percent of small business owners have no retirement savings or pension plan in place. And three-fourths of those owners have no written plan regarding how they intend to fund their retirement.
Business owners focus so much on growing and maintaining their business that often their own retirement is put on the back burner, said Steve Weitz, Business Banking Manager Minnesota Region for M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group.
"It's important to have personal retirement savings outside of your business, because the value of that business can fluctuate significantly over the years," he said. "Additionally, having a retirement nest egg is important should the unexpected arise, such as a major health issue or needing to sell the business sooner than expected."
Tina DiVito, head of the BMO Retirement Institute, offers these tips for small business owners on how to effectively save for retirement:
- Take care of yourself - Invest in yourself, not just your business. As a small business owner, the instinct is often to invest back into the business. However, it is very important to pay yourself as well, especially when planning and saving for retirement. Relying on selling the business to fund retirement can be a risky approach that does not always work.
- Invest in an IRA and SEP – Having a diversified financial plan, including both an IRA and Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEP), is a great way to accumulate wealth outside of the business. Investments in these plans grow faster due to tax-deferred compound growth, and IRAs and SEPs with conservative holdings are effective during times of instability, offsetting the volatility of business returns. SEPs can provide great tax benefits by reducing the owner's taxable income.
- Team of experts – Surround yourself with a group of experts, including a financial professional who specializes in small business, an accountant, a tax specialist and a lawyer. They can offer sound advice and provide insight on how to build your retirement savings independently of your small business. A financial professional can also help develop a detailed financial retirement plan that outlines your goals and progress.
- Explore other investment options – Consider other investment strategies that will help build your retirement savings, like investing outside of your IRA and SEP. It is also important to take precautions against the unexpected, like an illness or disability, by considering life and disability insurance.