September 10, 2021

Mixing business and pleasure: Setting up your business and personal goals for success

Our lives are constantly changing, so it’s essential to reset and refresh your goals regularly. Now that EOFY is over, it’s the perfect time to take stock and reset both your personal business goals and your plans for the new financial year.

Perhaps, you’d like to nail down that client you’ve been chasing or would really love to continue growing your business? Maybe you’d like to increase your exercise, or simply spend less money on eating out? Whatever the goal, making plans for the new financial year doesn’t need to be a gruelling task.

By assessing your starting point and setting a goal, you may be able to improve your overall financial wellbeing by making small, sustainable changes.

In my 30 years working in financial services, I’ve worked with people from all walks of life, assisting them in achieving their financial goals.

Over the years, I’ve developed a particular passion for working with business owners. While no two situations are the same, the years I’ve spent working with business owners have made me realise that most of us are working towards the same things.

Here are a few things to help you get started thinking about your goals for the new financial year.

Happy new (financial) year: It’s time to take stock, but where to start?

I find the best place to start is by examining your personal circumstances because, as a business owner, your personal and business goals often overlap. What do these look like, and is there anything significant that needs to be accounted for?

Perhaps, you’re planning to grow your family, so you need to build that nest egg, or maybe you’re hoping to retire in the coming years, so contributing to your super is a priority.

But your business also needs attention, whether that’s improving profit margins, meeting a payment schedule or forecasting cash flows. When looking to set goals for the new financial year, I invite you to consider what you’re looking to achieve with your money.

Maybe you have a loan you’d like to pay off or perhaps you’re hoping to buy a property for your business? If you experienced wealth growth or decline in your business or personal assets, this will likely create a flow-on effect.

Financial fluctuations can also result in the need for extra insurance coverage or assistance with debt management. Once you have reviewed all potential issues, you can start updating your personal and business goals.

A financial adviser can work with you to look at your situation holistically, assisting in selecting suitable goals to set yourself and your business up for success.

Drilling down into the details

Once you’ve identified your broad goals, it’s time to drill down into the finer details. But in my experience, there are three key areas that business owners look for advice. These are:

1. Keeping the business in the family

2. Planning for retirement

3. Asset insurance

As a business owner, you want to make sure your company is protected. Clients are often eager to discuss plans to ensure their business remains within their family.

So it's critical to understand what is important to you and address this with suitable strategies such as a family trust. This style of trust is designed to keep your wealth and assets within the family, preventing external connections and relations from gaining access.

Managing your super and, in particular, SMSF management are another key area where business owners can come to me for advice. Setting up a strong base for your super through careful planning can set you up for a future of financial success.

As a business owner, you’re in charge of your own super, so getting this right and looking at all your options is of utmost importance. Many clients I work with already own the business premises they work from through their SMSF and their business pays the SMSF rent.

The strategies that drive SMSFs often include:

● Conversations to maximise concessional contributions based on their cash flow.

● The possibility of minimising personal tax outcomes.

● Considerations around restructuring business balance sheets regarding director’s loans.

● The opportunity to boost retirement savings through non-concessional contributions.

Personal insurance is the third area where business owners are often eager for advice.

As you can imagine, when you own your own business, both your business and your personal assets are closely intertwined when it comes to wealth management.

By assisting my clients in considering appropriate insurance for their personal assets — as well as professional — we’re able to achieve an overall understanding and bring about the best outcome for their financial wellbeing.

Investment vehicles to drive your future growth

After you’ve outlined your priorities, the next step may be defining your strategy and finding the right investment vehicle for you. Most options can be tailored to meet your needs as a business owner, so it’s about your considering your circumstances and attitude to risk.

Recently, I met with a business owner in the building industry. They had sizeable business funds sitting in the bank and weren’t receiving high returns in this low-rate environment.

It was raised that they didn’t want to invest in shares as they were quite risk-averse and wanted to avoid market changes. We looked into alternative equities such as property, but due to their profession, they weren’t keen to overweight their investment in this sector.

In the end, we settled upon fixed interest-type investments that didn’t have the high-risk profile of shares. The client felt secure in their investment while still receiving a better return prospect over time compared to leaving their money in the bank. They had found an investment strategy that suited their needs.

An adviser can help you unpack your priorities while educating you on the risks involved with any investment vehicle. While many consider cash to be a low-risk option, over time inflation will impact purchasing power.

Is it more important to safely invest money as a business owner or invest in a higher-risk, high -return vehicle? The answer depends entirely on your individual needs, circumstances and attitude to risk.

Open your business to success

Reviewing business goals is similar to reviewing personal goals.

Over time, I have worked with all types of businesses, from small start-ups to large corporate-type structures. Despite their differences, I’ve come to realise that being prepared for all outcomes is key.

To be successful as a business owner, flexibility is everything.

I find the best way to prepare is through regular, strategic business reviews. No business can ever be completely secure, but regular reviews allow you to keep an eye out for any potential issues.

The frequency of these reviews depends on the size and structure of your business, but you should aim to complete one annually — so, on or around EOFY is the perfect time.

Another area where you can open your business to success is through outsourcing expert advice. While you are most likely an expert within your business field, it’s important to consider other areas of advice.

By involving an accountant, financial adviser, lawyer or banker, you’re covering all bases and giving your business the greatest opportunity to succeed.

Find a trusted adviser — who asks the tough questions

As a business owner, you can often have competing priorities, and it can require a significant investment of your time — and that can cut into your personal life. Part of my role is to encourage clients to prioritise and protect their personal needs alongside the professional.

I’ve seen the consequences when my clients put their businesses’ needs above their own — and it’s just not sustainable.

It’s important to find a trusted adviser who is unafraid to have a frank discussion about things like your health, insurance and future planning — making sure this is being taken care of and that clients have enough money put aside for the years to come.

I’ve always taken a personalised approach when meeting with business owners. When I look at my client’s concerns, I always consider how I would address this situation if the client were my friend or family member.

Your financial goals are going to change as your situation does, but refreshing these goals each EOFY will make all the difference. A financial adviser can work with you to select suitable goals — to set yourself and your business up for success.

By David Coxon, ANZ financial planner on behalf of The Public Accountant