Q: I’d like to buy a business but most of my funds are tied up in a rollover IRA. Is there any way to use those funds for a new business?
A: Yes, you can invest your retirement account funds in your own business. This can help get you off to a good start by building equity and reducing the need for debt and cash flow. These are important factors for the long-term success of your business.
Funding a small business through the use of retirement plans is ever more prevalent in today’s economic environment, as bank loans and other sources of capital have become more difficult to obtain. It can be attractive for individuals who have suffered from downsizing, closures and lay-offs or who have just retired early.
This type of self-reliant funding is available to just about anyone who has an existing retirement plan and who has terminated employment with the employer where the funds were accumulated or for someone who just has an IRA. The money invested through a properly designed retirement plan can be used to fund the start-up of a new business, purchase a franchise, purchase an existing business, and in some instances, raise capital for an existing business.
The process calls for the assets in your existing retirement plan to be rolled over – tax-deferred and penalty-free – into a newly established qualified retirement plan for you and your new company’s employees. Then the new IRA assets can be invested in the stock of the new company as well as mutual funds, individual stocks and other types of investments.
At the completion of the process, your new company can raise cash from the sale of stock to the retirement plan which in turn holds company stock as a plan asset. The cash can be used for legitimate investments in the business or to pay legitimate business expenses.
With this type of funding, it’s extremely important to consult with a firm that specializes in retirement plan design and administration. As with any qualified plan, compliance with rules and regulations is critical.
Business financing of any kind comes with risks – the risks inherently associated with opening a new business or purchasing an existing one. Before you decide to use your retirement funds, or any other type of financing for that matter, you should ensure that you have a viable business idea, a comprehensive business plan, adequate capital, and the consultation of small business professionals, like those at SCORE, who can provide advice and guidance for your new venture.