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LGBTQ small businesses confident about post-pandemic future but don’t have succession plans in place

LGBTQ small business owners are confident about their post-pandemic recovery, but more than 78% don't have a succession plan in place, according to a new CNBC + Acorns and NGLCC Small Business Owner Financial Health Survey.

Since many small businesses are handed down generation to generation, that's really frightening, said Justin Nelson, co-founder of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

"We have a number of same-sex couples that that may or may not have children, so there may not be a hereditary succession plan," he said.

"They absolutely need to start thinking about a succession plan for their company and what happens when either they decide it's time to retire or step back from a main management role."

When it comes to saving for retirement, about 70% of LGBTQ small business owners are doing so in 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts, SEP IRAs or similar plans. Meanwhile, 23% are not saving at all, they survey found.

The Formstack online poll was conducted May 12-21 among a national sample of 2,361 adults. The respondents were selected from the more than 1,600 certified LGBT Business Enterprises, as well as thousands of LGBT business owner members across the 50-plus local affiliates of the NGLCC.

For 46-year-old NiK Kacy, funding a retirement plan isn't an option right now. Kacy, a transmasculine nonbinary queer Asian, quit their job at Google in 2013 to start a namesake footwear business that addresses the lack of options available to the LGBTQ community.

NiK Kacy, founder of NiK Kacy Footwear, has a 401(k) from a previous job but has not saved for retirement since starting their company.Photo: Nicolette J-Pownall

"I would love a lot of the men's shoes, but whenever I would try to go find something similar to wear for myself, I was told I was in the wrong section or they didn't make my size," said Kacy, who was assigned female at birth.

Fortunately, Kacy has a 401(k) plan from their time at Google. However, these days, any money coming in goes toward their business or living expenses, which are very tight.

With business dropping 60% during the pandemic, Kacy is wondering if it would be smarter to get a full-time job with benefits, and continue NiK Kacy Footwear on the side, with employees.

"I am wondering, what is going to happen to me when I get older?" Kacy said.

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That's a very real concern for many small business owners, who may have to figure out the best vehicle to save in, since any 401(k) plans would be from former employers.

Yet, they should remember the old adage "pay yourself first," said certified financial planner M. David Goldstein, CEO and chief investment officer of Washington-based Kalorama Wealth Strategies, a financial planning firm focused on members of the gay and lesbian community.

"Once the business has sufficient excess cash flow, beyond your basic living needs, that should become part of the business and personal spending plan or budget," he said.

Debt and credit concerns

The survey also found that 45% of LGBTQ small business owners don't stick to a personal budget each month.

More than half are carrying personal debt to support their business, yet 45% say their business doesn't carry debt.

Nearly 20% have $10,000 or more in credit card debt.

NGLCC's Nelson sees a disconnect between what LGBTQ owners should be able to access and what they are actually able to acquire for their businesses.

Of those polled, 40% had an exceptional credit score (800-850) and 28% had a very good score (740-799).

"We tend to have this exceptional level of credit, yet there are still credit crunches for small businesses," he said.

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