By Rieva Lesonsky
Recently I was joking with a fellow small business owner that we’ll both be working until we’re 90. If you’re like me, you’re so passionate about your business that you can’t even imagine wanting to ever retire.
But whether you’re 65 or 25, you should be thinking about retirement from the time you launch your business. That’s because if you’re like too many business owners, you mistakenly assume that selling your business will be all you need to enjoy a comfortable retirement, and you won’t put anything away for the future.
There are lots of options for small business owners when it comes to retirement plans, including IRAs, SEP plans and even 401(k) plans. In fact, you can get a 401(k) plan for even the smallest business. The Department of Labor website has lots of information to get you started in exploring the options. Think you can’t afford a retirement plan? You’d be surprised how affordable they are. Think of it this way: Just as you invest in your business’s future, you need to invest in your own future, too.
Starting a retirement plan has an added bonus: If you make your employees eligible for the plan, you have just created a great way to attract and retain qualified workers. With most big corporations offering some type of retirement plan to employees, being able to offer one is a smart way to compete for talent.
Of course, I’m not saying that you can’t retire on the money from the sale of your business—just that it’s smart to have some additional money put aside. But speaking of selling your business, even if that’s the last thing on your mind right now, you need to be thinking about ways to build value in your company so that when the time comes, you’ll be able to get a price that truly reflects the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into it.
Creating a business that’s designed to sell should be part of your strategy from the get-go. Even if you hope to create a family business that you pass on to your children (and theirs), your goal should be to create a family business with enough value that inheriting it is a benefit, not a burden, to your kids.
To build a business with value, you need to create replicable systems, build your business assets and carefully manage your financials. Those are efforts that will pay off when you retire—or even if you never do.