Why are we here? A wonderful question that people from all walks of life, in a number of locations around the world have asked down through the ages. Today, I’d like to focus on those of us who have stepped out and decided to create the best life they could for their family and themselves but entering into private enterprise. I’m talking to the business owner.
One of your measures of success may well be the ownership of the family home. This is one of the things that make the hours of toil worthwhile. We’ve often spoken about how to minimize those hours of toil by the way but again, this is about protecting what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Home ownership.
A hard luck story
A gentleman owns a small, “hole-in-the-wall” style restaurant. It’s a neighbourhood favourite for those that like great food at a good price… you know the drill. Long story short, this little nook becomes pretty popular, growth opportunities beckon, he moves up the street to a larger location and the cash floodgates are open. So, wildly successful, years of toil have well and truly paid off – and they’ll continue to do so because now the whole family is helping out. Brother doing deliveries, wife taking care of takeaways, kids part-time waiting tables and learning the business.
One day, something goes wrong, only a handful of people know exactly what but it was most certainly avoidable – admin/bookkeeping anomalies, tax, something like that, apparently the business partner may have dropped the ball. The upshot?
Financial Armageddon! Suddenly, the fines, bills and recompense needed to be paid and made and what’s worse, the neighbourhood loses the best thing that happened to local food.
Even worse than that? Eventually, the family home and private assets came into play…
Take luck out of the equation with the right business structure
Okay, so that was a partnership that went horribly wrong and we’ve spoken about “partnership panic” previously. This was the other side of that coin, where personal assets (the home etc) were left exposed to the ravages of business debt. Here are just two of many steps to avoid that loss and heartbreak:
- Shelter under the protection offered by a company or trust business structure. With the guidance of a knowledgeable and helpful accountant, you can sleep easier at night (or the day if you’ve taken the late shift). Life becomes a lot easier when you know that whatever happens, the family home that you have worked so hard for is so much safer than if you chose another structure under which to operate.
- If you are a sole trader or in a partnership, you have potentially pared down the costs of doing business but in return you have taken on a fair bit of personal liability and risk (and potentially tax). You are the risk-taker. You need to recognise that and consider your spouse or relationship partner the asset-holder (which means the house etc would be exclusively in their name). Keeping these two entities separate goes a long way to insulating your assets against business risk.
At Inspire, one of our primary aims is to ensure that our clients achieve the best possible lifestyle for themselves and their families. Another is to ensure that they get to keep it.
In part two we’ll share ways you can (and should) minimize your tax.