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View Point: Jacksonville Business Journal

You and your business should be planning for 2024 now

By Phil Bravo for Jacksonville Business Journal

November 10-16, 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, now is the perfect time to develop a financial plan for success for the upcoming year. For both individuals striving toward financial security and business owners navigating the intricacies of financial management, a strong financial foundation can help lay the essential groundwork for a productive 2024.

Setting financial goals is the first step towards achieving both personal and business success. The goals we set should be timely and actionable, providing a benchmark for consistent progress throughout the year. For personal finances, consider objectives like boosting retirement savings, funding 529 plans for your children’s education and paying off or reducing personal debt. On the business front, focus on objectives for 2024, such as increasing sales to a specific target, emphasizing customer growth and retaining key employees. Clear goals provide direction and motivation, helping you stay on track.

A common mistake I often see many small business owners make is that they tend to reinvest too heavily in their businesses and neglect their own retirement planning. While growing your business is important, relying solely on it for your retirement can be a risky endeavor. Business valuations can fluctuate and, in some cases, be overestimated. To secure your retirement, explore alternative options like funding a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), contributing to Roth IRAs, and establishing a 401(k) for your business. Diversifying retirement savings helps us avoid large fluctuations in value and continue to build our retirement savings over time.

Exit strategies are also an often-overlooked aspect of financial planning. Whether it’s for business or personal estate, having a well-defined exit strategy is crucial. In your business, consider updating your succession plan to ensure the smooth transition of ownership to key employees, stakeholders, family members, etc. On a personal level, regularly review and update your estate planning to protect your assets and loved ones. A refined exit strategy provides peace of mind and safeguards your legacy.

Maintaining an active and open relationship with your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is paramount for financial success. Schedule routine meetings with a CPA at least twice a year to discuss your financial goals, tax mitigation strategies and significant purchases. A CPA can provide valuable insights, help you navigate complex tax regulations and optimize your financial strategies. Their expertise can prove to be a valuable asset on your path to financial prosperity.

While these resources should be an essential part of any financial plan, it often takes time and effort to put them into action. Consider meeting with an expert to help get your personal and business finances on track for success in 2024. Cogent Bank, for instance, hosts a suite of financial planning resources and banking experts that can help prepare you and your business for the upcoming year with local expertise.

Phil Bravo serves as a senior commercial relationship manager for Cogent Bank’s First Coast Market. In this role, he is responsible for the growth and management of the bank’s commercial portfolio.