Think you’re ready to retire? If you’re like most small-business owners in the U.S., you may need to think again. Entrepreneurs are largely shortchanging their personal financial futures, in favor of deeper investments into their business, according to a survey released by CNBC and the Financial Planning Association (FPA). The majority of small-business owners’ wealth (70%) goes into the business, data shows. The balance was invested into stocks, real estate, bonds, commodities and other sectors, according to the survey.
“Small-business owners are very myopic and tend to focus on the viability and growth of their business, ignoring much else, including their long-term financial needs,” said FPA Chairman Michael Branham. “There needs to be balance between their personal and professional money goals.”
The Small Business and Financial Planning Survey, a first for CNBC and FPA, sampled 178 financial advisers nationwide who service small-business clients between the ages of 35 and 70. The survey found that developing a retirement plan and exit strategy is the most pressing challenge facing small-business clients today. Other concerns include managing cash flow, business tax issues, health insurance, raising working capital, growing revenues and succession planning.
Financial planners who participated in the survey had three pieces of advice for their small-business clients: Diversify, prepare for the worst, and plan for succession. Small-business owners shouldn’t rely solely on the eventual sale of the business to fund retirement, they say, instead diverting some of the funds that would have gone into business expansion to other investment assets.
More than half of the advisers surveyed believe their small-business clients don’t have enough protection against financial risks, like the owner’s disability or premature death, which could leave the owner’s family with little or nothing. The survey also revealed that only about 20% of small-business owners had a succession plan in place.
“It’s hard for a business owner to think about turning over the reins of the business to someone else,” said Branham. “Their personal identity is tied to their company. As a result, they don’t adequately prepare an exit strategy.”