When you think about personality characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, the words determined, confident and independent may come to mind. Unfortunately, sometimes their greatest strength can also be their biggest weakness. Northwestern Mutual Financial Representative Percy Avetrani believes that trademark “do-it-yourself” spirit may be one of the reasons he sees many business owners putting off working with a financial professional.
“I see many business owners wait until they’re years into their business before they think about financial planning,” said Avetrani. “The first few years of owning a business can be very busy, but it’s important to sit down and think about your future financial goals now—before the future becomes the past.”
For most entrepreneurs, business and family finances are intertwined. An integrated financial plan should cover both. Consider these six planning tips to help achieve personal and business success:
Your Personal Planning
1. Protect your family. Your family is depending on you for income. A solid financial plan should consider what would happen if you couldn’t provide that income. Make sure your financial plan includes things like disability income insurance and life insurance to provide income to continue funding the plan if you were to become disabled or die.
2. Grow your personal wealth. Many business owners pour everything they have—heart, soul and money—into their businesses. But make sure you have a plan to accumulate personal wealth outside your business. Consider diversifying assets through personal retirement accounts, investment accounts, permanent life insurance and more.
3. “One of my clients’ business was hit hard when the markets crashed in 2008. If it wasn’t for the work that we did together to diversify his assets, his business would have gone under, he may have lost his home, and his family would have been very unhappy with him,” said Avetrani. “Because he had a number of assets outside of his business, today his business is stronger than ever.”
Cover what you want for your children. Do you want to pay for college, a Quinceañera or a wedding? Avetrani has seen clients spend tens—even hundreds—of thousands of dollars on these events. The sooner you start saving for these events, the easier it will be to shoulder the cost when they arrive.
Your Business Planning
4. How would the business survive if you or a partner couldn’t work? Just as you would protect your family if you were unable to earn an income, you should protect your business in case you couldn’t work. Life and disability income insurance can also protect your business.
5. Have the tough conversation. Similar to the idea of a prenuptial agreement before a marriage, Avetrani advises writing down what would happen to the business if multiple owners don’t see eye to eye down the line. Working with business partners to create a plan today will help all parties to see more clearly if they decide to part ways in the future. It’s better to get a process in writing during good times.
6. How will you exit your business and retire? When you own a business, you have to figure out what you will do with your business before you can retire. Typically, it’s not as easy as putting a for sale sign in the front, selling it and getting out. Will you pass it to family, a key employee or someone else? How will they pay for the business? The sooner you plan a strategy to exit your business, the better.
“Compare business owner A, who is 45 years old, has a million in the bank and a stable business, with business owner B, who at the same age has significantly less in the bank because he’s spent more than he was supposed to out of his personal dollars on his business. Business owner A is likely in a better position at retirement,” said Avetrani. “The key is to plan early to find yourself in a favorable financial position when all is said and done.”
Building a plan that integrates your personal and business planning and has buffers can protect you, your family and your business from future uncertainty and provide the confidence for you to focus on your business and family, knowing that your finances are in order.
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM), Milwaukee, WI, and its subsidiaries. Percy Avetrani is an agent of NM.