Being an entrepreneur offers many benefits but not the ones that are traditionally provided by employers. Health, dental, and, vision insurance are just some of the puzzle pieces you'll need to track down on your own. Another vital benefit that entrepreneurs often overlook is a retirement account like a 401(k).
In fact, many entrepreneurs aren't on track to reach their retirement goals, and 21 percent have even invested what they had saved into their new venture, according to a Manta study. The Spark 401k Small Business Retirement Planning Index shows that almost half of small business owners are saving less than 10 percent of their income, and they're saving less each year.
And it's not just entrepreneurs who are struggling. According to a survey by Personal Capital, a hybrid digital wealth management company, a quarter of working-age individuals plan to lean on Social Security as their main source of income during retirement. Yet the Social Security trustees' 2018 report estimates that the fund, which has already begun to dip into reserves to make payments, could be depleted by 2034.
"Saving for retirement isn't what it used to be: Strategies that set the standard 20 years ago, like Social Security and pensions, are no longer safety nets for funding Americans' retirement dreams," says Jay Shah, Personal Capital's CEO. He adds that this changing landscape makes it crucial for Americans to improve their financial knowledge. That's especially true for entrepreneurs.
As an entrepreneur, you have unique needs when it comes to saving for retirement. Here are four ways you can meet those needs and feel more confident about your financial future.
1. Run--don't walk--to talk to a financial advisor.
Financial advisors aren't going to make you a boatload of money; they're just there to advise you on allocating the money you do have. If you wait until you're nearing retirement age to talk to an advisor, you'll have fewer years of income left in front of you with which to reach your retirement goals.
That's not to say you can't handle savings and investments yourself, and there are plenty of resources to help you if you decide to go that route. Still, advisors have the experience to handle a wide range of financial situations. But whether you consult a financial advisor or not, the key is to start now so you have more time to work toward your retirement savings goals--and to determine what those goals are in the first place.
2. Get a retirement account designed with you in mind.
There is a number of retirement plan options that could work well for entrepreneurs. For instance, a solo 401(k) is perfect for a business owner with no employees, and it can also cover the owner and his or her spouse. Depending on your age and self-employment income, you can sock away as much as $61,000 in 2018.
A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA, designed for businesses with just a few employees, allows entrepreneurs to contribute up to 20 percent of their net income.
If you have 100 or fewer employees, a Savings Incentive Match Plan (SIMPLE) IRA requires you to match a certain percentage for your workers.
Bottom line: There are numerous options out there. It's all about finding the right fit for you.
3. Contribute to savings monthly and pay off debt ASAP.
Don't put off saving all year thinking you'll make up for it by investing your tax refund. Tax time will come around, and there will be bills to pay, as always. Instead, make saving a consistent monthly habit.
In addition, pay off debts as soon as possible and stop relying on a credit card. Saving, by its very nature, means not using the full spending power allowed by your income. Our society has become accustomed to using credit cards to spend beyond our means. To save for retirement, you must learn to live below them.
4. Know what will happen to your business when you step down.
More than a third of small business owners lack a succession plan. That's not the end of the world, but implementing one right before you retire can be a huge headache. Establish your strategy ahead of time by identifying a good candidate to take over and sit down with that person and a lawyer to hash out the details. If you're looking to sell your business instead, start preparing for this future three to five years ahead and get your business in the best shape possible. Either way, start thinking about your long-term goal for your business now, not later.
Entrepreneurs face unique challenges when it comes to saving for retirement, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. With the right planning and an understanding of the tools available, entrepreneurs can start or continue to save, wherever they are in life.