What You Need to Know About Running a Business in Retirement

What You Need to Know About Running a Business in Retirement

Apply your knowledge, experience and business skills to supplement your income and stay fulfilled.

It isn’t uncommon for retirees to start their own business. Trey Peterson, a financial professional with investment firm Guardian Wealth Strategies in Burnsville, Minnesota, estimates 40% to 50% of his retired clients end up starting businesses or consulting. After six months of retirement, they become bored and decide to try a new endeavor, he says. However, before you make the leap to business ownership, you should understand a few key factors and characteristics that lead to long-term success and fulfillment.

Here’s what you need to know about running a business in retirement:

Your Vision Might Not Match Reality

It can be a mistake to jump into business ownership in a field unrelated to your previous work experience. “I recommend working part time or alongside someone who is already doing what you want to do,” Peterson says. That can help you avoid sinking money into an endeavor that ends up being different than anticipated. Peterson recalls one client who thought a business in the wellness industry would be a perfect fit for her, but after three months in a related part-time job, she realized it wasn’t actually what she wanted to do in retirement. Retirees may discover they need to adjust the business model of the industry they plan to pursue. Or they may even give up the dream of owning a business once they learn more about what is involved in running a company.

A Business Mentor Can Provide Tried-and-True Advice

Enlisting the help of an experienced business professional can help you avoid costly mistakes. “You need to know what you’re getting into,” says Dawn-Marie Joseph, president of Estate Planning & Preservation in Williamston, Michigan. Mentors may be able to answer questions about starting a new business, buying an existing one and how to manage daily operations. Free mentoring is available through SCORE, a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

You Shouldn’t Deplete Your Savings to Start a Business

Retirees may be tempted to raid their 401(k) plan, IRA or other savings accounts to cover startup costs. However, only about half of new establishments will last five years, according to Small Business Administration data from 2006 to 2017. Limit how much you pull out of savings to avoid the possibility of losing your nest egg should your business fold. “You do not want to pull more than 5% of your retirement assets,” recommends Bryan Bibbo, a financial fiduciary with the advisory firm The JL Smith Group in Avon, Ohio. Those who need more money may want to consider a business loan or a line of credit.

Employees Add Layers of Complexity

Restaurants, retail shops and other businesses requiring employees can be subject to a myriad of state and federal rules. “Along with employees comes paperwork,” Joseph says. Business owners need to collect W-4 forms with employee Social Security numbers, withhold taxes and process payroll. Plus, there may be requirements such as workers compensation insurance, unemployment taxes and workplace benefits to manage. An experienced accountant can provide assistance with these and other financial matters.

You Should Have Clear Guidelines for Measuring Success

Many people go into business ownership without a clear idea of how they’ll define success. Peterson suggests business owners create three benchmarks that define great, good and poor business performance. These benchmarks may be related to income, profit or another metric. Defining poor business performance in advance can be helpful in deciding when to abandon a failing venture. “A lot of people make the mistake of trying to keep a dead business alive,” Peterson says.

Tax Laws Can Vary by Location and Business Type

There is no simple answer as to what taxes and laws apply to your company. “Before you start the business, talk to an accountant or lawyer about how businesses can be set up and taxed,” Bibbo says. For instance, the corporate tax rate and filing requirements are significantly different than what is required of sole proprietors who can use a Schedule C on their personal income tax forms. Eligibility for tax cuts such as the qualified business income tax deduction can also depend on how you structure your firm. What’s more, businesses selling goods in stores and online may need to collect sales tax. Some cities and states also require businesses to obtain permits and meet certain zoning requirements.

You Need an Exit Plan

When you start or buy a business, you also need to know how to end or sell it. Bibbo says every business owner must be able to answer the following: “When are you going to get out and what does that look like?” That may mean selling the business when revenues hit a certain level, passing it on to children at a specific age or folding up shop when it becomes too time-consuming.

Source: U.S. & World Report News
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