30th May, 2019
Business owners grapple with when, how, and how much to pay themselves from their own business. Figuring these things out can be a struggle, but here are some things to think about to get you planning to pay yourself sooner.
Setting out as a new business owner is a journey of discovery and, often, disappointment.
Nobody gets into business for themselves to work for free, but unfortunately this seems to happen far too often. Business owners often feel obligated to pay down all costs and reinvest any extra into their business before drawing a meaningful wage for themselves.
This shouldn’t be the case.
For business owners, there should only be three answers to the question of when to begin paying yourself. They are:
In reality, there’s no one answer that works for every business.
The timing for paying yourself is different for every single business and business owner. Some businesses may be profitable early on, while others may take years to reach the point of breaking even, let alone profitability.
Not all business owners are actively working in the business. So when should they get paid?
Other business owners may work full time in the business and therefore require an income for living.
Some business owners don’t expect to get paid for the first 12 months and set aside personal funds to get them through. Others plan to build up a business and sell it and receive their payment through the sale.
Every business owner will take their individual circumstances into account when considering when and how to pay themselves. Discuss this decision with a bookkeeper or accountant to make sure nothing is missed in the decision-making process.
There’s often more to it than just the ‘when’. You also need to consider: ‘Why should I pay myself?’, ‘How should I pay myself?’ and ‘What amount should I pay myself’.
There are a number of pros and cons to take into account when working through the logic behind choosing to get paid as a business owner.
Here are some considerations for and against so you can work out how best to define your personal situation.
You should pay yourself in the way that works best for both you and the business.
And there are a variety of ways to pay yourself. You don’t always have to pay the same amount on a regular basis. For example, you could pay in chunks or on an ‘as necessary’ basis.
If you’re a sole trader or in a partnership, you can just withdraw cash from the business. Speak to your accountant about how much to set aside for tax, so when they tally it up at the end of the financial year you have enough to pay what’s due.
You could even consider seeing how the business is positioned at the end of the year and draw a lump sum according to the business’s capacity.
Most importantly, speak to your accountant or bookkeeper to discuss what options are best for you.
If you trade as a company, you can pay yourself a salary in the same way you would any other employee.
At the end of the year, you can discuss your company’s financial position with your accountant and top up your earnings with dividends from profits if appropriate.
There are different ways to look at this question.
There are issues of worth, cash flow, replacement value and compensation for risk and investment – all of which can be factored in to what you get paid.
Ultimately, it’s your choice as to the rate, but you’ll want to be very careful that whatever you’re drawing doesn’t hamper the business’s growth or sustainability.
Some things to consider include:
It is important to consider if the amount you are paying yourself would be enough to get a replacement for you? If not, you might like to increase it.
Are you earning the minimum wage or higher? Have you taken into consideration superannuation? If your wage is low, you might like to ask yourself why? Does it need to be that low?
One of the many reasons people start a business is to increase their earnings. It’s important to reward your efforts and the risks you’ve taken. If you don’t get around to paying yourself, those rewards may pass you by.
So, get some advice and work out a plan for when, what and how you’ll start paying yourself.
Whatever happens, don’t leave it too late.
Not sure who to discuss these issues with? MYOB works with the finest advisors, accountants and bookkeepers across Australia and New Zealand. Find an expert that can help your business on the road to success today.