If you’re a woman who owns a business, you may have some challenges not shared by your male peers, but you also have several opportunities to help improve your financial future.
You may already be taking some or all the right steps, but here are some ideas to be sure you’re considering and revisiting as your business grows:
Refresh your network. Are you involved in networking with other female business owners? Many of them may have insights into the issues women face in the business world, as well as suggestions about lending programs and business-friendly banks. You may also enjoy passing along your lessons learned to others.
Review your business structure. If you go into business as a sole proprietor, you’ll have to report your business income on your personal income tax return. If you incorporate or form a limited liability company (LLC), you can protect your personal assets – such as your house and your investments – from creditors because these assets will be separated from your business assets and debts. You might also consider other, more complex entities, known as C and S corporations.
There’s no single “correct” business structure and the most appropriate one for you may change over time. In choosing one that’s right for your needs, you’ll want to consult with your tax and legal advisors.
Invest for growth. Ideally, hard work produces results, and one of the main results you want from your investments is growth – that is, you want your investments to appreciate in value so they can eventually help you meet your goals. But if you are overconcentrated in vehicles such as certificates of deposit (CDs) and government securities, you may end up lowering your growth potential.
That’s not to say that CDs and Treasury bills are in some sense “lazy.” They can provide you with income and help you reduce the impact of market volatility on your portfolio. But to achieve most of your goals, you’ll need a reasonable number of growth-oriented investments working for you, with the exact percentage based on your needs and life stages.
Do an insurance checkup. To protect yourself and your business, you may want to review your insurance to make sure you have the right kinds and amount of coverage. General liability insurance can be appropriate for sole proprietors if you’ve established an LLC, or you’ve incorporated your business. If you provide some type of professional service (i.e., legal, accounting, engineering and so on), you might need professional liability insurance. And no matter what business you own, you might want to add disability insurance to replace some of the income you’d lose if you were injured or became ill.
Consider all your retirement options. If you’ve got your own business, you’re solely responsible for funding your retirement. Fortunately, as a business owner, you’ve got several attractive options, including an “owner-only” 401(k), a SEP-IRA and a SIMPLE IRA. In deciding which plan is right for you, you’ll need to consider several factors, including the number of employees, if any, and the nature of your business.
However, all these plans are easy to set up and administer and offer potential tax benefits. And even though you’ve got plenty to do already, you should make the time to establish or review your own retirement plan – because eventually you’ll need all the resources you can accumulate to enjoy life as a former business owner.
You can also find valuable information on programs for female business owners by visiting the Small Business Administration’s website at www.sba.gov and searching for “women-owned businesses.”
Running your own business can be challenging, but by making some positive financial moves and getting the support you need, you can also find business ownership to be highly rewarding, personally and professionally.