By Emily Long
What happens if your clients don’t pay you on time or your computers go down and you need to buy a new suite? Business emergencies aren’t uncommon, and whether they result from physical theft, digital theft, natural disasters, or other emergencies, their cost can be detrimental to your company. In these situations, a business savings account can save the day. Instead of maxing out credit cards and dealing with debt, you can tap into your reserves to help you out of a jam.
Whether you’re starting from zero or already have a little nest egg for your business, here are six tips to build a strong and valuable business savings account. You never know when you’re going to need it, but you’ll be happy it’s there when you do.
1. Determine a Goal
Before you start saving, make a goal of how much you want to have set aside. As an individual, people are advised to have at least three months of rent, utilities, and living expenses saved. As a business, err on the side of caution and save six months to a year of your hard costs—rent, utilities, salaries, etc. For some businesses, this amount could be $50,000 in savings while larger corporations will need closer to $2 million. Do the math, set a goal, and start saving your critical emergency fund.
2. Include Savings in Your Budget
You’ll never save a penny if you don’t make it part of your monthly accounting practices and view it as an indispensable “expense.” If you can, take 15%–20% of your earnings and funnel it into your emergency account. This habit will ensure you never skimp on building your reserves. As the business owner, this may mean you take out less for yourself, but your money is still where you can access it should you need it. When times are good, put even more into savings if you can. It’ll help you all the more when the going gets tough.
3. Put Your Money in Low-Risk Accounts
Your fastidious practice of saving for emergencies won’t help you if you put all your money in high-risk ventures and investments. Safeguard your savings by opting for high-return, low-risk savings accounts or investments. Also remember that you should never lock your emergency fund away in something like a 401K that penalizes you from withdrawing early. Keep your emergency funds as available as your checking account so you can tap into it immediately and without punishment.
4. Stop Wasting Money
John Rampton, investor and founder of Due, explains, “In large corporations, waste is part of everyday life.” Take a hard look at your business expenses. Do you really need to jet set to meet clients in person instead of video conferencing? Do you absolutely need your entire staff on salary instead of incorporating some on a freelance basis? Do you need that fancy office in a prime downtown location? If you say “no” or are unsure about any of these questions, it probably means you need to scale back.
You can even spin a no-travel policy or more economical location as a way of the future, a green company initiative, or something that will save your clients money. Then you can take those savings and put them into your own pocket and your emergency fund.
5. Protect Your Assets
As businesses transition and use more digital resources, identity theft becomes a real threat. Protect what you have in savings by setting up identity theft and fraud protection. That way, if you suffer a breach, your entire savings account won’t go up in smoke; you’ll be alerted right away. While the accounts you have should be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), you don’t want to lose your savings for weeks or months while it launches an investigation. Taking these precautions now can ensure your business always has access to its emergency fund later.
6. Use Your Emergency Fund Only During Emergencies
This last tip takes discipline, but you can do it. Establish rules for withdrawing from your savings account—natural disasters, legal fees, late payments that impact payroll, identity theft, and other sudden, unexpected, or catastrophic events. An emergency account should never be used for travel, supplies, or anything superfluous. Stay strict with yourself and your emergency savings account, and your business will be safe from one more risk—you.
Establishing a business savings account for emergencies won’t only save you when times get hard but also will help you sleep better knowing you have a cushion to fall back on should you need it. With these six tips, you can work toward having a safety net established in no time.
Emily Long is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She writes about tech, home automation, and finance with the occasional dive into health and wellness. When she’s not living out of a suitcase, you can find her practicing yoga, running Utah’s best trails, or attempting to perfect her coffee brewing skills. Follow her on Twitter at @emilyanndc.