How to Work Toward Retirement From Your Small Business

The key is to gaining financial freedom in your future is starting early.

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By Lisa Stevens

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Many of us strive to achieve financial freedom, and it's something that most small-business owners hope to feel at some point. In fact, according to a recent Wells Fargo/Gallup survey, 82 percent of small-business owners said they are currently saving or investing money toward their retirement, and 76 percent said they think they'll have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

That's good news that many small-business owners are saving for their future. So what are they doing right? Here are a few tips that might help small-business owners prepare for retirement.

Related: Many Baby Boomers Are Choosing Entrepreneurship Instead of Retiring

Setup a succession plan.

For many small-business owners, the thought of transitioning out of their business may be years away, if ever. But, even if your plans to retire or transition your business are distant, planning for your company's future now will help ensure long-term success. It's a good idea to create a transition plan at the same time as you develop or update your business plan. If you want to exit by selling the business, for example, you might include a timeline for courting potential buyers. If you want to pass the company along to an employee, on the other hand, you might include a strategy for choosing and training your successor. Framing a successful transition and developing a schedule will be important so you know which steps need to be carried out, who is in charge of each step and when you want those steps completed.

Related: This Doctor Who Lived to 105 Believed That for a Long Life, You Shouldn't Retire

Maximize your savings.

Take time to determine how much money you can afford to put aside each month. Then, once you have established this goal, commit to transferring that amount directly into a savings account at the beginning of each month or investing in a self-employed retirement plan. Regardless of the size of your business, there are a variety of retirement plans that can meet your needs. Individual 401(k)s are designed exclusively for one-person operations, while businesses with a few employees may benefit from a Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEP-IRA), and businesses with up to 100 employees may consider a Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE IRA). There's also a wide range of options available under the umbrella of a traditional 401(k). To learn more about available plans, make time to discuss with your accountant or financial planner. You can also find out more at the IRS's Tax Information for Retirement Plans Community.

Related: It's Shocking How Many Entrepreneurs Aren't Saving for Retirement

Maintain an emergency fund.

No matter how well you plan, the unexpected can happen. So it's important to put cash aside when profits are comfortable and find ways to implement strategic cost management in tighter times. For instance, if you want to expand your business to a new location, you will most likely need money to lease the new space. On the other hand, you might be able to hold off on upgrading your computer system. Before you can start saving money, you'll need to find ways of cutting or lowering expenses strategically. Take time to evaluate your company's expenses on a regular basis. Another possible option is to send either all or a significant portion of your tax return into your emergency fund. Though it may not be enough to fully fund the account, it can at least give your emergency funds a boost. While there is no definitive number for how much money you need to be putting aside, most people agree it should be somewhere between three to nine months of your basic fixed expenses.

Related: Don't Wreck Your Retirement: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Personal Finances

As a small business owner, with the right determination and planning, you can work toward gaining financial freedom in your future. The key is to get started early -- perhaps by following one or more of the tips above -- and make a conscious effort to move in the right direction every day.

Lisa Stevens

Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo

Lisa Stevens, executive vice president of Wells Fargo, is a 27-year veteran of community banking. She is based in Los Angeles and is responsible for nearly 2,700 branches, 7,150 ATMs and nearly 34,000 team members serving consumers and small businesses in 24 states in the West and Midwest.

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