Entrepreneurs matter, a lot. They drive the economy forward. They create jobs. They innovate and fuel the progress of our economy and our culture. What they’re not so good at, it seems, is safe investing for retirement.
From a recent story in The Wall Street Journal, we were sadly unsurprised to hear about business owners nearing retirement age who were having trouble selling their businesses, in order to cash out.
They are getting by, but retirement is slipping away from them:
Nearly half of the 799 small-business owners surveyed in August by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage International, an executive-mentoring organization, expect to retire after age 65, with 38% saying that their planned retirement date is later than they had predicted five years ago. In addition, 56% said most of their retirement nest egg is tied to their business.
These are hardworking people with great businesses — success stories. So it’s doubly hard to hear of their financial troubles. Even if on paper they’re doing well, there’s no exit. They have to keep on working, just like anyone else.
The story illustrates a major point about safe investing for retirement: You really can’t put all your chips on black and hope for the best.
Even the best-run business in the world is, by its nature, essentially illiquid. In good times, nobody wants to sell a moneymaker. In bad times, nobody will buy.
The plight of the small-business owner is like that of anyone who takes a one-sided long bet.
A bet that jobs will be available, even if your skills fade. A bet that an inheritance will save you in the end. A bet that a spouse will always be there to support you. A bet that stocks will roar back for one more run at an all-time high, right on cue.
The fact is, you don’t know what tricks fate will spring on you. Safe investing for retirement is about bringing all those possible futures into the present, in order to understand what you need to do today to ultimately succeed.
Will you need money? Of course. Saving and investing is taking income today and finding a way to make it grow, reliably, securely, and steadily, so that you can rest assured that your future self isn’t trapped by an unexpected turn of events.
Safe investing for retirement is not rocket science. It’s simple, and you can learn it in an afternoon. The time to get started is now.