3 out of 4 stars
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Financial freedom—the ability to live almost debt-free without needing to work—is everyone’s dream for retirement, and small business owners are no exception. Yet when you must rely on yourself not only for your own paychecks but for the financial health of an entire business, how can you begin to think about retirement? That’s where The Business Owner’s Guide to Financial Freedom: What Wall Street Isn’t Telling You by Mark J. Kohler comes into play.
The Business Owner’s Guide to Financial Freedom takes readers through everything they need to secure their financial freedom as entrepreneurs. From assessing your business’s value to estate planning, Kohler provides all the tools which he, as a CPA, has found necessary for financial freedom and independence. In addition to his own nuggets of wisdom, Kohler includes diagrams for visual learners and commentary from Randy Luebke, Kohler’s trusted financial advisor and certified Investment Advisor Representative (IAR). Built upon years of experience, this book is as complete a guide to this subject as you can find.
As a budding entrepreneur, I am just beginning to experience the struggles of running a small business, and I am fortunate to have found this book. Kohler does not just tell readers how to retire; he shows them how to run an overall healthy business which will benefit everyone involved, including potential buyers. Of course, this information is most valuable to companies at least as big as LLCs. Sole proprietorships will find useful gems for growing your business or that can be adapted for smaller businesses, such as the 4 x 4 Financial Independence Plan, strategic planning, and investing in Wall Street. However, sections about things like building a wealth management team and selling your business will not be useful until your business grows beyond a sole proprietorship.
What is most unique about this book is that it does not focus solely on investment or growing your business. Rather, it explores multiple avenues for improving an entrepreneur’s financial situation: optimizing your business, eliminating bad debt, consulting with an IAR, and, yes, investing in products like insurance. Kohler takes the reader step-by-step through his and Luebke’s financial independence plan, emphasizing the importance of following these steps sequentially and why. Kohler also makes it clear that a diverse stocks-and-bonds portfolio is not the only way to grow your wealth. He suggests it might not even be the best way, depending on your situation. Instead, he details such solutions as investing more in your current business, buying and renting out real estate, and even starting or investing in new businesses.
Admittedly, the subject matter is not the most exciting, and the financial jargon gets tiresome at points. Regardless, Kohler’s conversational tone makes the dryer passages more engaging. Unfortunately, this conversational tone often leads to rambling as well. All the information Kohler provides is needed; the problem is that some sections did not keep my attention well. I often had to re-read them because I forgot the original point. Fortunately for me, Kohler provides “takeaways” at the end of each chapter which summarize the most important points, and those helped me get back on track when I got lost.
I noticed a few minor spelling/grammatical errors. The most glaring error appears when Kohler writes “DirectedIRA?com” when he means “DirectedIRA.com”. Nevertheless, these errors are not prominent enough for me to think that this book was not professionally edited.
Overall, I give The Business Owner’s Guide to Financial Freedom 3 out of 4 stars. While I found the book very informative and helpful, I wish that Kohler had jumped to the meat of the topic sooner. He spends a little too much time explaining the negative “secrets” of Wall Street, i.e. the numerous fees and self-serving nature of financial advisors, before getting into what we can do to avoid those pitfalls. I can see how those less knowledgeable of the subject would want to know this, but it feels overdone here. Kohler should also provide more guidance for sole proprietorships. Not all small businesses are LLCs or larger, and sometimes sole proprietorships need the most help in financial planning. However, if you’re the owner of an LLC or are growing your sole proprietorship into something larger, I definitely recommend this book. Just don’t expect it to be a get-rich-quick scheme or a fast way to get your finances in order. As Kohler himself points out, this process will take time, but it will help your wealth grow.
The Business Owner's Guide to Financial Freedom
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