Small business owners are people first, and people often have personal finances to worry about. Just as financial problems in your business can affect your personal life, financial problems in your personal life can also affect how you run your business. Here are some suggestions to help you manage both sides of this tricky equation.

Have an emergency fund

For starters, you should really have an emergency fund for your personal finances. This would most likely come in the form of a savings account. Ideally, you should add money to it on a regular basis, and never make withdrawals, except in the case of an emergency. In the event that an emergency does present itself, such as unexpected medical expenses, a natural disaster, failure of your business, etc., you should be able to support yourself and your family for the immediate future using your emergency fund, until you can overcome the obstacle at hand, at which point, you can go back to replenishing the fund.

Keep your business and personal finances separate

Not only should you refrain from making withdrawals from your emergency fund, but you should also not dip into business finances for personal reasons. Many business owners make the mistake of not separating business and personal finances, and the result is usually problematic. Keeping them separate means always knowing where your business stands financially, and that should be a priority, because if the business has problems, your personal finances, along with those of staff, will potentially suffer as a result. You likely control your own salary, and, of course, you always have the option to invest as much of your personal money back into the business as you like, but keeping separate accounts will ensure that you know which dollars belong where.

Consolidate your personal debt

One way to get your personal finances in better shape is to consolidate any high-interest debt into a lower-interest loan. Explore loan options. A home equity line of credit or loan may be one economical way to do this. Nevada State Bank has a useful debt consolidation calculator that can help you figure out where you stand.

Explore money-making opportunities outside of your business

You've heard the phrase "don't place all your eggs in one basket," and nowhere is this more applicable than with your personal finances. Even if your business is thriving, things can change in time, and it's a good idea to have at least one secondary source of income that can help you boost your emergency fund and general nest egg, while also providing assistance in the case of hard times.

Live within your means

Many entrepreneurs like to celebrate their successes by living a little more extravagantly than they did when they were working for someone else. The freedom of working for one's self can be very gratifying, and it can be tempting to overpay yourself and live "the high life," but doing so means less of that money is staying with your business. Tuning down your lifestyle a bit can help you thrive financially for a longer period of time.

Keep an eye on your credit score

Bad credit can affect you in business as well as your personal finances. Keep a regular eye on your credit score and do your best to maintain it. Plenty of entrepreneurs struggle here as they try to use whatever finances they can to get their business off the ground. Just be sure you're staying up to date on all your bills, and watch for problem areas in your credit report that may need resolving.

Don't put off setting up a retirement fund

If you haven't set up a retirement fund yet, do it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to truly be prepared for retirement when the time comes. Even if you plan on retiring from the sale of your business, it's impossible to know for sure what that outcome will be, and you may not find yourself in as ideal a situation as you expect. It's better to be prepared and to start that preparation early.

Consult professionals about your finances

Unless your own expertise and educational background is in finance, it's not a bad idea to consult professionals, whether it's a banker, an accountant, a tax professional, or some combination of the three. The expenses of doing so may be more than worth it as the savings you see from following their advice can be significant.

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC