The numerous and conflicting demands of running a fitness business can result in the operators overlooking their own financial needs, to potentially devastating effect. Financial advisor Helen Baker looks at the keys to building a financial buffer.
Business operators shoulder a huge number of responsibilities: working long hours, juggling conflicting demands, navigating the red tape minefield, drumming up new business and constantly trying to balance the books.
It’s all for nothing, though, if you, the business owner, don’t have your own finances in shape. So, it’s time to ask the hard question: how solid are your financial foundations?
In my book On your own two feet, I outline the five financial foundations needed to build wealth and fund a comfortable retirement. While most businesses are built on good foundations, many business leaders I see are missing one or more of these crucial pillars in their own lives.
Take a few minutes to consider your own position and whether you have these five foundations supporting your (and your family’s) financial future:
1. Emergency fund
Covid has been the perfect example of why it’s essential to have money set aside for a ‘rainy day’. No one saw it coming, its impacts were far-reaching and for many people – especially fitness professionals, it hit incomes hard.
In a cash flow crisis, businesses can call in debts, sell assets, negotiate deferred payment terms and, in the extreme, cut their workforce. For individuals, there is no laying off of staff or chasing overdue invoices. Hence the importance of having cash set aside for when life throws you an unexpected curveball.
2. Spending and investment plan
Well-managed businesses have a clear plan as well as visibility over where their money goes and where they are investing for future growth. The same goes for our personal finances.
This plan goes deeper than a simple household budget: it should include guidance over why that money has been allocated, how long for, the expected returns and contingency plans. These details help keep you focused on your goals and your outgoings in check.
It should also be updated regularly to reflect major life changes, such as getting married or divorced, having kids, or receiving any inheritances.
Chances are you have numerous business insurances in place: property damage or loss, business interruption and, of course, professional indemnity and public liability. But what cover do you have personally?
For example, many working Australians have life and disability insurance policies attached to their superannuation. Yet many business owners don’t pay themselves super. So, what happens should you suddenly be unable to earn a living? Sadly, it’s often only when a claim is needed that people realise they don’t have adequate insurance cover.
For many business operators, the business itself is their retirement plan: to sell it or divest their stake within it. Superannuation takes a back seat.
But if you’re self-employed, paying yourself super diversifies your risk should the business not deliver the expected returns. If you already do collect super, check in regularly to see how it is growing and whether you can boost its performance.
Plus, you could be eligible for government co-contributions and tax breaks – essentially free money – that allow you to build that nest egg faster and benefit from the compounding effect throughout your working years.
5. Estate planning
Estate planning is even more critical for business operators than it is for others. Not only do you have your personal interests to disperse, but your business interests too.
Consider factors such as:
Having your affairs in order will protect your family and stakeholders should the worst happen to you, as well as ensure your business legacy.
Note this is general advice only and you should seek advice specific to your circumstances.
Helen is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of the new book, On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women (Ventura Press, $32.99). Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at onyourowntwofeet.com.au
Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness or Cert III/cert 3 is mentioned, it refers to SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42015 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52015 Diploma of Remedial Massage.
Important Information: As of 9th November 2021 SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness have been replaced by SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. A transition period applies to enable currently enrolled students to fulfil their study goals and complete their qualification. The transition period concludes on 8th November 2022. If you have not completed all the requirements by this date you will be transitioned and enrolled into the replacement qualification SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. View the SIS40221 Master Trainer Program Flyer here. View the SIS30321 Certificate III – Fitness Coach Flyer here.