Small business makes super mistake

MORE than a fifth of Australian women who own their own small business are not a member of any superannuation fund, a report says.

MORE than a fifth of Australian women who own their own small business are not a member of any superannuation fund, a report says.

Research commissioned by Westpac also revealed the low take-up and continuation of superannuation by female small-business owners, with 53 per cent not sorting out a plan for retirement.

Most small businesses must pay at least the minimum 9 per cent of the earnings base to employees for superannuation, but they are not required to make any sort of payment towards their own super.

"We're all going to need a lot more money because we're living longer. We need to fund that period of time and the pension is not going to be able to give us the things we want," says Larke Riemer, director of women's markets at Westpac.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) recommends that to retire comfortably single females need just over $40,000 a year and couples just over $55,000 a year.

The government offers significant tax breaks for business owners who contribute towards their superannuation.

A full tax deduction for all pre-tax contributions is available up to $25,000. For business owners over 50, this deduction is up to $50,000, until the end of this financial year.

This incentive of keeping tax payable lower and increasing the amount of money small-business owners will have for retirement is something that needs to be taken advantage of more, especially by women who have significantly less super than men, says Ms Riemer.

"The amount of super women have in their super fund for retirement is about half that of men, some with very small amounts. The average female's super fund sits at $150,000 and in some cases it's much lower than that," she says.

While more men than women run their own business, women are fast catching up, starting a small business at twice the rate of men. In NSW, women make up about one-third of the 650,000 small businesses, according to the NSW Department of Trade and Investment.

"More woman than ever are leaving the corporate world, for whatever reason to have children, or for flexibility, or they just feel like having more control of their lives. So they are starting up these businesses but they are not thinking about their superannuation," Ms Riemer says.

In many cases small-business owners believe their business is their superannuation, she says.

"They'll build these amazing profitable businesses and then once they retire they'll be OK and in a lot of cases they don't have a succession plan in place," she says. "In some instances they walk away from the business altogether."

With the research showing 42 per cent of respondents wished they had managed their super differently, Ms Riemer recommends small-business owners start planning early.

"You cannot not put yourself first you still need to think about yourself, your assets and your family," she says.