Key Investing Mistakes to Avoid

As a small business owner, your relationship with money is likely to be different from when you were a salaried employee. Because your personal income is so closely tied to your business finances, it is important for you to make the most efficient use of your hard-earned dollar. Read on to discover the nine common investing mistakes that all small business owners should avoid:

1. Paying too much tax.

If you are an incorporated business owner and you make less than $500,000 annually, you can restructure your compensation to pay less tax. By paying yourself in dividends rather than a salary, it will often result in more money in your pocket for investment. It will also allow you to opt out of Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) providing you with further money to play with, should you wish.

2. Not being diversified enough.

It is important to not reinvest too much of your money back into your business. Strategically shelter your money outside your business, in a tax-efficient account where it can be invested and grow independently.

When you do invest, try not to do it in the same industry in which your work. For example, if you own a jewelry store, you might not want to buy a lot of precious metal funds. If gold goes down, it will mean that both your business and your investments will suffer at the same time, instead of supporting each other.

3. Following conventional financial-planning strategies.

With the market continuing to be volatile, traditional financial-planning methods and investment strategies may feel too risky for you. But that does not have to stop you investing full-stop. By creating a highly diversified portfolio made up of cash-flow investments that are not tied to the stock market you will be able to grown your nest egg, without the volatility of stocks and mutual funds.

4. Not demanding transparent reporting from financial advisers.

Make sure you are clued in to all the charges you may face from your financial advisor. Many financial product companies don’t clearly disclose their fees which may result in you paying more than you first thought. Opening an account, buying and selling stocks or funds, administering a loan, all could incur fees. Make sure you ask the right questions ahead of time, before you make any decisions.

5. Not maximizing the perks of incorporation.

If you have an incorporated business there are some innovative solutions you can employ to save more money. For example, you can establish a trust. Costing around $1,500 to set up, this flexible financial planning tool can be used for things such as income splitting with your spouse or low-income retired parents. Tax savings in ideal scenarios for high-net-worth individuals could be significant and efficient; particularly if a business owner uses a trust to get funds from a small-business tax environment (where the tax rates are very low) and into low-income hands without the funds being taxed in the business owner’s hands.

6. Being an emotional investor.

While buy, hold and prosper isn’t always the answer, it’s also easy to lean too far the other way. According to the annual Dalbar Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behaviour study, the average investor may have underperformed in equity markets by as much as 5% annually, over the last 16 years, as a result of emotional trading instead of investment decisions. So take time to make sure you invest wisely.

7. Growing without a succession plan.

You are probably the focus point of your business. And you probably like it that way. But it is important to remember that your business must be built to grow after your involvement has ceased. Whether you are planning to retire or to sell developing a formal succession plan, will help the transition of your business, and will make your financial preparations, a little easier.

8. Not having sufficient risk protection.

You rely on your company for income and, in turn, the company often relies on you to operate and thrive. But what will happen to the business   or your family should a tragedy should prevent you or a key partner from working? Make sure you have the right insurance to protect your interests; it is important to understand how being a business owner affects your business and your family.

9. Separating charitable giving from investment planning.

If you are in the position to give back to your community, you may not realize that these gifts are a potential investment planning option. Think about implementing structures such as donor-advised accounts as a financial solution that not only lets you give more effectively, but also creates a lasting legacy.

Building a successful business involves long hours and a lot of equity. Take the time to look at your financial goals and get the right advice, so you avoid these common mistakes and make the right decisions.

This article from Business in Vancouver March 20-26, 2012; issue 1169.