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As a small business owner, you don’t have the luxury of a company-sponsored retirement plan unless you create it for yourself. In some cases, it may not even be possible to predict your income from one month to the next.

Regardless of your financial status, however, it’s important that you start saving for your retirement. Those days will be here before you know it, and you want to be sure that when you’re ready to retire, you’ll still be able to live the lifestyle you want.

1. Prepare your business to run without you.

You’ve spent a lot of time and effort building your business. Now, put a little effort into building it into a company that doesn’t require your presence every day. In this way, your business can continue to provide income throughout your retirement.

2. Start planning for retirement early.

In the early days of your business, you may only be able to make small contributions to your retirement account. Those small amounts, however, add up over time. The sooner you start contributing to your retirement account, the sooner you’ll have the funds you need to retire comfortably.

3. Create a plan.

What’s your retirement goal—that is, how much money do you need to have set aside in order to retire comfortably? When you know the amount, you can start creating a retirement plan.

How much do you need to contribute to your retirement account and when? How will your retirement contributions increase according to the plan you’ve chosen? Without a clearly-developed plan, you may find yourself struggling as you near your retirement years.

By developing solid retirement goals and creating a plan to get there, you can shape your retirement lifestyle now.

4. Diversify your retirement plan.

Many entrepreneurs have seen their retirement plans fail to grow the way they hoped—or worse, they’ve seen them disappear altogether. By diversifying your retirement plan, you’ll create a more effective safety net that will help provide for you and your spouse when you’re ready to retire.

Examine the benefits of the various types of IRA and 401(k) plans. Consider the risk level you’re comfortable with. If needed, consult with a financial adviser to help you create a solid retirement savings plan.

5. Live below your means now.

As a small business owner, your income may fluctuate on a regular basis. It’s tempting to live large when your income is high, assuming that you’ll just scale down during the lean seasons.

Unfortunately, this can lead to skimping on your retirement contributions—and in many cases, that means effectively stealing from your own future. Instead, learn to live below your means and put the rest in savings. This might include:

  • Passing on big vacation trips in favor of quieter seasons at home, especially if you’ve been struggling to build your savings account.
  • Driving an inexpensive car that is paid off, even if you have to drive an older model than you’d prefer.
  • Paying attention to entertainment expenses and spending on gifts. Sure, you’ve got a little extra and can afford to go all out this year, but that “extra” might be better spent elsewhere—like in boosting your retirement account.

Savvy small business owners know that it’s critical to have a savings-focused attitude if they want to keep growing their business long-term and preparing for retirement. While you’re making plans for the future, make sure you’ve prepared your business, your family, and your employees for the possibility of disaster.