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Expert advice on retirement planning for small business owners

Holly Kylen ING Retirement Coach ING Financial Partners

Just as growing a small business is no easy task, finding the right strategy to save for retirement isn’t simple, either. No matter how near or far a small business owner is from retirement, it’s essential to have a long-term savings strategy. You may be like many small business owners and have been so focused on your company that you’ve neglected your end goal.


Do pay your future retired self first

Make sure you are putting money aside into a retirement plan, paying your future retired self during your working years. Retirement success is based on a variety of factors including how much you save along the way, so fit it into your budget somehow. Just like the success of your small business is up to you, the success of your retirement is also partly up to your ability to save along the way.

Do learn about your retirement plan options as a small business owner

There are three main types of tax-deferred retirement plans geared specifically towards small business owners: Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Accounts (SEP IRA), SIMPLE IRAs and Solo 401(k)s. In addition, some entrepreneurs opt for traditional 401(k)s. To determine which plan makes sense for you, you need to consider your time horizon, savings goals, your desire to access the money before retirement and, if you have employees, their participation.

Do make an appointment with a financial advisor

There are many nuances of retirement planning for small businesses. In order to know your retirement savings number and meet that goal, many small business owners enlist the help of a financial advisor. A financial advisor can sit down with you and figure out how much you need to save each year to help meet your goal and what savings vehicles make sense for you. They can even help keep you accountable to your retirement goals.

Do make a list what you want to do in retirement

Like most small business owners, you have likely dedicated your life to building your business. Ramping down in retirement may be harder than you think. So, before retirement, consider what you want retirement to look like and how involved you want to be in your business. Making a list of the top five activities, hobbies, and places you would like to visit once you do retire, can help put things in perspective.

Do consider your biggest fears about retiring

Perhaps you fear running out of money in your late 80s, facing a major illness that could wipe out your retirement savings, or finding out your fixed monthly income in retirement is not enough to cover the basics. Facing these fears before retirement and planning ahead can help alleviate these fears.


Do not depend on selling your business to make your retirement dreams come true

Selling a business should be viewed as a windfall, not the core of your retirement savings strategy. You should have your ducks in a row when it comes to succeeding in retirement. Relying on selling your business when the time comes to retire is not your best option.

Do not get discouraged if you feel like you are too late

It is never too late to start saving for retirement. There are many small business owners in their early 50s who are behind on saving for retirement. Even at that stage, you can still kick your savings into high gear for the last 10 to 15 years before retirement and make up a lot of ground.

Do not miss out on the Roth IRA if you are eligible

It is a good idea to put some portion of your retirement savings into a Roth plan. If you’re considering an IRA or 401(k), you’ll want to decide whether to use a Roth version of those plans. Like a traditional IRA or 401(k), earnings in a Roth grow tax-deferred. But you invest a Roth with after-tax dollars and your eventual distributions will be tax-free as long as you’ve had the plan for at least five years and you’re older than 59½.

Do not wait until the end of the year to fund your retirement plan

Figure out what your savings goal is for the year, divide it by 12, and set up an automatic monthly deduction to put money into a retirement savings every month.

Do not touch that retirement money

It is imperative for small business owners that put money in their retirement accounts to view that money as off the table until retirement. Early withdrawals can incur ordinary income tax, plus if you’re under 59 ½, a 10 percent penalty.

Jumping cartoon

So, what is the end result of setting up and funding a small business retirement plan? Well, nothing beats the happiness of a small business owner who is able to retire and have a bucket of money allowing them to do all the things they’d been dreaming about. Time to make it happen!

More expert advice about Retirement Planning

Photo Credits: Graph With Stacks Of Coins by Flickr: Ken Teegardin; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Holly KylenING Retirement Coach

ING Retirement Coach Holly Kylen is a financial advisor with ING Financial Partners. She is an author of a Retirement Planning for Women seminar and serves on ING’s Women’s Advisory Network Board. Kylen is FINRA Series 6, 7, 63 and 65 securities...

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