Small-business retirement accounts 101

Small-business retirement accounts 101

(BPT) – If you’re a small-business owner – whether your business consists of just you and your spouse or a handful of employees – and you’re emerging from the pandemic into your new normal, it may be time for you to think about setting up retirement accounts, not just for your employees, but for yourself, too. That may be a surprising statement, considering many small-business owners do not currently offer retirement benefits to their employees, let alone take the time to set up an account for themselves.

There are myriad reasons why small-business owners put off saving for retirement, including investing every last dollar back into the business so funds for things like retirement weren’t available, anticipating selling your business when you retire so there’s no need to save now, and, a reason every business owner can relate to, there are just not enough hours in the day to think about it.

But the reality is, it’s easier than you think. A good financial advisor can explain the ins and outs of retirement accounts to you in an afternoon and help you decide on the plan that makes the most sense for you, your business, and your employees. Your retirement-age self will thank you, and offering those benefits will make it easier for you to hire and retain employees now, too.

Until you make that appointment with your advisor, here’s a primer in Small Business Retirement Account Options, 101.

SEP (Simplified Employee Pension)

A SEP is designed for self-employed individuals or small businesses, ideally with fewer than 25 employees. If you earn a self-employment income, you are allowed to save more for retirement using a SEP plan than a traditional IRA or Roth allows. A SEP is less complex and costly than a 401(k), allows employers to contribute larger amounts than a traditional or Roth IRA, and may qualify for larger tax deductions.

SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees)

A SIMPLE IRA is ideally suited as a start-up retirement savings plan for small employers who have 100 or fewer employees, and who are not sponsoring a retirement plan. Contributions are tax-deductible, and earnings within the account are tax-free until withdrawn.

Solo 401(k)

A Solo 401(k) is for those who are self-employed and offers the same benefits of a regular 401(k), but it is designated for a business in which only the owner (and their spouse) is an employee. You can choose to make after-tax salary deferrals (adding a Roth component), with the tax advantages of withdrawals being tax-free when the time comes.

The power of self-directed accounts

What’s the difference between a traditional and self-directed 401(k) or IRA? Where you’re allowed to put those investment dollars. Especially in uncertain economic times like the ones we’re living through right now, that choice couldn’t be more important. With a self-directed 401(k), you can invest beyond the stock market.

So, if not the stock market, where do you put those dollars? With a self-directed 401(k), you can choose from many different areas, including:

  • Real estate

  • Private debt like corporate debt offerings, notes secured by deeds of trust or mortgages

  • Private equity like stock of C-corporations, limited partnerships, LLCs, and REITs

  • Precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium

  • Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin

Why self-directed accounts are so attractive to investors

The beauty of this type of retirement investing isn’t just about having options other than the stock market. It’s about following your passions and using your own expertise to guide your investments. Let’s say you’re a real estate agent. You know the market extremely well. With a self-directed account, you can put your knowledge and your dollars together in a tax-advantaged way.

It’s also about paving the way for what you want to do after retirement. For that same real estate agent, it means retiring from selling properties and living on the income from the ones he or she owns via these investments. Equity Trust Company has seen investors use their knowledge of medical technology sales to fund their retirements and people involved in home restoration tie their retirement to the activity of their business.

Whatever retirement account option is right for you, investing now means peace of mind later for yourself and for your employees. Equity Trust specializes in helping people make decisions about their retirement accounts. To find out more, visit

Equity Trust Company is a directed custodian and does not provide tax, legal or investment advice. Any information communicated by Equity Trust is for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as tax, legal or investment advice. Whenever making an investment decision, please consult with your tax attorney or financial professional.


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