Personal Finance and the Small Business Owner

Small business owners are a different breed. If you’re a small business owner, you know that you need to be able to handle just about anything. You have to be a jack-of-all-trades to keep your business afloat, and you also need to be smart about personal finance.

Entrepreneurship and risk

Many types of small businesses are out there, and some can be quite successful. Small business owners are endlessly clever and dedicated. Even while big-box stores like Target are hurting small retailers, small business owners are coming up with ways to profit off of those very stores. A retailer might buy a Target liquidation pallet, for instance. Big-box stores like Target don’t bother to get much back for their returns and liquidations (they’re too big to care), and that opens up opportunities for online and brick-and-mortar retailers hoping to get some affordable stock, which they can then resell at a profit while still charging prices low enough to compete with the big boys.

Clever businesses like this can succeed, but nothing is guaranteed — which is why small business owners need to be so smart about their finances. Business owners should be armed with a business plan and should be conservative about growth and spending. They should also carry a larger-than-usual emergency fund. Emergency funds are things that everyone should have, but the higher the risk, the bigger the fund should be.

Real estate and loans

Debt can be trouble for individuals and businesses, but that’s not always the case. Smart use of certain types of debt can actually help you increase your net worth, as long as you know what you’re doing.

Real estate is a classic example. A mortgage tends to come with a low interest rate (relative to other types of loans), and it allows you to acquire a valuable asset (the home, of course), which you will get more equity in as you pay down the mortgage. As long as you’re careful not to go beyond a reasonable budget, a mortgage can be a smart type of debt to take out.

And homes can offer you other options for loans, explain hard money lenders in Texas. Using the equity you have in your home, you could take out a loan secured by your home — a loan that you could use to start or reinvest in your small business, or to take care of another important expense or investment.

Your financial accounts

As a small business owner, you should have a few essential bank accounts and investment accounts.

Like most people, you’ll want a checking account and a savings account — the former for short-term expenses and the latter for long-term savings goals other than retirement (such as buying a house or a car). You may also, however, want a separate account for your business. This may even be required, depending on how your business is set up legally (you should speak to a lawyer about this).

You’ll also need an emergency fund — a big one, as discussed above. Finally, you’ll need a retirement account or two, as we’ll talk about below.

Saving for retirement

Owning your own business or doing business as a sole proprietor can be freeing, but it may also take away some of the structure and tools that make it easier to save for retirement. Freelancers, for instance, won’t have access to business 401(k) plans or matching programs, which will slow down their saving.

You’ll need to be proactive in saving as a small business owner. Make sure that you’re putting away as much as you can for retirement (10 percent is a good minimum, if you can manage it — though a bit more would be better). Use an IRA or Roth IRA to gain tax advantages on your retirement investments; unlike 401(k) accounts, IRAs are available to individuals regardless of their employer (or lack thereof).