Businesses and investors typically rely on quarterly reports and forecasts to assess the financial health of a company. While some may question the frequency and format of these standardized reports, everyone can agree that analyzing the big financial picture is essential for any business.
As a business owner, it’s important to find a method of reporting and analysis that works well for you, your team and your stakeholders. We asked a panel of Forbes Finance Council members how business owners can stay on top of their finances and ease the reporting process. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Consult A Financial Planner
Sit down with a financial planner for a short consultation. Many advisers will meet for a small fee or even on a pro-bono basis to help young, interested newcomers. Also, many employees have access to an adviser through their 401(k) or 403(b) at work. Take the opportunity to pick their brains when they visit to review your plan benefits. You can learn a lot! – Amir Eyal, Mylestone Plans LLC
2. Start Small And Diversify
Start small and with things you know. Make sure those investments also provide a dividend so you can take those funds and reinvest them in the same things, as well as in new investments that will also grow and create more dividends, like a nice snowball effect. Make sure you don’t have more than 8% to 10% of your funds in any one investment; you want to have a diverse portfolio of investments in case some of them go bad. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
3. Keep It Simple
With all the investment options, it’s easy to end up with “analysis paralysis.” Don’t overthink it. Now is the best time to learn. Begin setting aside a fixed amount every month to invest. Consider investing in broad-based indexed funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). By dollar cost averaging, you don’t have to worry about timing the market. – Jason Crowley, CFA, CFP, CDFA, Divorce Capital Planning
4. Start With What You Know
If you want to dip your toe into the investing pool, try starting small and with what you know. You don’t want to jump directly into the stock market. Start with a Roth IRA, a company 401(k) or a savings account and then branch out. If you want to try something new, do the research and put down small investments to get started. As you learn, you can increase the amount. – Greg Herlean, Horizon Trust
5. Take A Low-Risk Approach
If you’re feeling intimidated, it’s probably because you are risk-averse. This is not a bad thing. First, lighten up on yourself—investing is intimidating for anybody! Dollar-cost averaging is a great way to stay consistently active in the market without riding the emotional roller coaster of highs and lows. Over the long run, this is considered a risk-averse strategy. – Ross Garcia, Divorce Mortgage Advisors
6. Try Automatic Investing
Consider robo-investment software like Betterment, where the software will ask for your goals and risk tolerance. It then builds a suggested portfolio for you and recommends how much to invest monthly to achieve your goals. The technology manages the money to produce dividends and reinvest them. Contributing the same amount monthly will use dollar-cost averaging to your advantage. – Danielle Kunkle Roberts, Boomer Benefits
7. Invest With Acorns
Acorns simplifies investing by taking your spare change and investing it in your choice of mutual funds. When you make a purchase on an enrolled card, Acorns rounds up to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. Choose your fund(s) based on appetite for risk and other factors. At a time when paying down student loans, etc. is likely a top priority, Acorns is a good way for newcomers to get their feet wet. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International
8. Put In The Time
Start by setting up a retirement account and get in the habit of setting money aside in a money market account. As your account builds, educate yourself on the market and find where you feel comfortable. There’s an endless number of advisers out there who can help you, but nobody will take care of your money as you will, so spend the time to learn—it’ll be more than worth it over the long haul. – Shane Hurley, RedFynn Technologies
9. Read Some Books And Take Responsibility
When you first start out, it can be overwhelming. There are tons of investments with virtually limitless options for risk tolerance. Start with something simple like a no-load exchange-traded fund that mirrors the S&P 500. Next, enhance your knowledge by reading investment books. This is your retirement we are talking about! You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to understand it. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
10. Find Your Investment Niche
You’ll never be able to learn everything about all types of investments. Pick a category you’re familiar with—say, real estate—and do your research. Assets that you know and understand are easier to invest in and it streamlines the process. It’s hard to know where to start, and it’s easy to wonder if you made the right choice—the right asset class is the one that you’re already familiar with. – Jason Craig, IRA Resources, Inc.
11. Consider Investing In Indexes And Mutual Funds
Start by investing small amounts into various index funds and mutual funds. Many index funds are popular for their conservative growth and changes. Reach out to a certified financial adviser to make sure that you’re investing money wisely. There are also many brokerages that offer zero-fee or low-fee trading. – Ben Jen, Ben Jen Holdings SLLC
12. Choose Target Funds
Investing in a 401(k) with target-date funds is a great first step. Most companies have a version of a match for retirement, and target funds allow a novice investor to put money away in a savings capacity. By choosing a target fund, you reap the benefits of the market while experienced professionals manage the fund for you. – Sal Rehmetullah, Fattmerchant
Originally published on Forbes on 2/28/2019: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2019/02/28/12-investment-tips-for-beginners-looking-to-save-for-retirement/