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What Can Women Do About the Retirement Crisis?

Our nation is in a retirement crisis. 10,000 people a day are turning age 65 for the next decade, and the average retirement account in America is approximately $50,000. And while Social Security can provide a baseline retirement income, it was never designed to be the sole source of income. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that with a life expectancy of approximately 20 years at age 65, only a magician can make these numbers work.

To make matters worse, women are less retirement-ready than their male counterparts due to lower lifetime earnings, breaks from the workforce and longer life expectancies. Women business owners have additional challenges with exit strategies and succession planning.

This year, the National Association of Women Business Owners found that more than half of the respondents to our annual survey have not done any succession planning. Women-owned businesses account for more than 10 million businesses in the U.S., generating over $1.7 trillion each year to our economy. Just as women cannot afford to be without a plan for retirement, our nation cannot afford to lose revenue from businesses closing their doors due to a lack of succession planning. So here are some succession strategy tips:

1. Valuation

Get a valuation of your business in order to know what it might be worth in today’s dollars.

2. Financial planning

Do in-depth financial planning and cash flow analysis with an experienced financial advisor who can uncover potential gaps and put you on the right track towards your goals.

3. Other sources of retirement savings

Maximize retirement strategies designed to benefit business owners. For example, cash balance plans allow for much higher contributions than traditional retirement savings vehicles.

4. Buy-Sell

Have a written buy-sell agreement in place along with a funding strategy to back it up, in case the unexpected happens.

5. Succession options

Think through multiple succession options with a list of potential buyers. Some common examples include an adult child, a key employee and a respected competitor.

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is to rely too heavily on the value of their business alone for retirement. Diversification is always a prudent concept, so consider ideas such as owning your business building and fully funding your retirement savings plan to provide you with other sources of retirement income.

In closing, women have a lot of work to do in order to become retirement-ready. A good place to start is for women business owners to embrace the conversation around exit strategies for their businesses.

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