Every business owner needs to take cash out of the business at some point. But if you’ve just moved from being a sole trader to a limited company, you may get caught out by the different rules around withdrawing cash from the company.
Why are the rules different for directors and sole traders?
When you’re a sole trader, you and your business are one and the same legal entity. So taking cash out is a simple procedure. But as the director and shareholder of a limited company, you and your business are two separate entities – and that means that money in the business is no longer your personal money. It’s money that belongs to the limited company.
Do I need to keep my personal and business money separate?
Regardless of which way you operate, you should always have separate business and personal bank accounts. The business account should be used to deposit all funds from sales and other business income, and to pay for purchases and other business running costs.
As a sole trader, there’s no legal difference between your personal and business funds. The main reason for a separate personal bank account is to keep your personal expenses separate from your business expenses. So, rather than mixing up things like mortgage or house rental payments, groceries and household bills with your business expenses, you have two distinct accounts – one personal, one business.
If you need money for personal expenses, you just transfer it from the business account to your personal account – it’s all yours to do what you want with. Obviously, you need to leave enough in the kitty to pay suppliers when their bills become due. But, as a sole trader, there’s nothing to stop you draining the business account completely, if you want to.
How do I draw money out as a limited company director?
For a limited company, it’s a legal requirement to have a separate business bank account. Even if you own the company 100%, the money in the company bank account belongs to the company, it does not belong to you.
So, how do you take out money to live on?
There are four ways of taking money out of the limited company, and in each case you should do it by transferring funds from the company account to your personal account. Preferably you should make these separate transfers, even if they happen on the same day.
- Claiming back your expenses – any business expenses that you’ve paid personally can be reclaimed. Your expense claim should include receipts or other documentation, and a description of what they were for.
- Being paid a salary – you can opt to be paid a salary for your role. This salary is processed through your payroll system, with any PAYE and NI deducted. The net pay due should be transferred to you on the normal company payday.
- Withdrawing a dividend – where there are sufficient after-tax profits available in the company, you can withdraw dividends. Paying yourself and your fellow directors a dividend requires some formalities, including board minutes and dividend vouchers.
- Directors’ loans and repayments – if you’ve previously loaned money to the company, the loan can be repaid to you. Where nothing is due, the company can lend you money but there may be interest charged (or a taxable benefit may arise if no interest is paid). The company may also be liable for a 33.75% temporary tax charge (section 455 charge) if the loan is not repaid by the end of your company’s financial year.
Talk to us about taking out cash as a director
Withdrawing funds from your company for personal use takes some serious thought and planning. If not, you may well end up with an unintended overdrawn director’s loan account.
It’s important to remember that the company’s funds are not yours in the same way that a sole trader owns the funds in their business account. Getting professional advice as a director is the best way to manage your cash withdrawals from the business.
We’ll work with you to:
- Decide the best split between salaries and dividends
- Help with any board minutes and other documentation
- Help ensure that your company’s bookkeeping records accurately and timeously reflect the movement of funds between you and the company.
Get in touch to talk about your cash requirements.
Once you’ve sold your business and have received the funds from the sale, you’re then faced with a big question: what happens next?
After guiding the helm of your company, it will be tough to let go. But if the circumstances are right, there’s no reason why exiting the business should be a sad occasion. You’ve built a stable business and personal legacy. You’ve employed a team of talented people and helped them drive their careers. And you’ve brought your products and/or services to a satisfied and loyal customer base.
So, how will you now focus your time and effort? Let’s look at your options…
Retire and live out the entrepreneur’s dream
After many years of hard work, worries and stress, the thought of a business-free lifestyle may well be appealing. But retirement isn’t for everyone. If you have thrived on the pressure, challenges and excitement of being the captain of your business ship, retiring may seem like a step away from the action.
On the flipside, the allure of a more relaxed lifestyle may be strong. With the proceeds from your sale, you should be in a position to make you, your family and those around you very comfortable. It may be that the entrepreneur’s dream of building a business, selling up and retiring to a hot climate is your idea of perfection.
Stay involved in the business
Even though you don’t own the business anymore, it doesn’t mean you have to step away completely from the company. You could remain involved in the business in some capacity, allowing you to ‘keep your hand in’ and support the future course of the business.
For example, you could become:
- A joint partner in the business – you could sell a part share in the business and work as a joint partner with your new investor. This allows you to free up some capital, while maintaining an element of control and influence.
- An external adviser or consultant – you could advise the new owner and their board as an outside adviser. After all, who knows this business better than you? Becoming a consultant could well be an astute move and keeps you in the loop with the future path of the business – while charging out a consultancy fee as an added benefit.
- A non-executive director (NED) – you could join the board as a NED and use your personal experience to help guide and support the new owner and their board. If that’s the route you choose, it’s a good idea to retain some shares in the business, so you have a vested interest in the company’s performance and your own share value.
- An informal adviser to your family – if you’re handing the business down to the next generation of your family, they will almost certainly want your advice. You’ve been through the ups and downs of setting up the business, so you’re in the best position to give your family the guidance and tips they need to run a smooth operation.
Set up a new business
With so much experience behind you, it could be that you’re itching to start the whole business cycle again. If you’ve got the ideas, the capital and the motivation to start another new business, this can be a new and rewarding challenge to get your teeth into.
First time around, you’ll have been a little green and less aware of the many pitfalls of founding a new business. You’re now better prepared and more knowledgeable about what’s required from a founder and business leader. We learn plenty from our mistakes, so you’re in a great position to return to the business cycle again with a new idea.
As with any new businesses venture:
- Make sure you have a detailed breakdown of your business idea
- Write an in-depth business plan that maps out your journey
- Ensure you have the funding to get this idea off the ground
- Be prepared for a period of hard work and lower income before the company takes off.
Do your bit for charity and your community
We all have interests and causes that are close to our heart, so supporting charities and community projects in these areas is a great way to use your money for long-term good.
Donating money to your chosen charity or social enterprise is also a triple whammy:
- You get to provide funding to causes that are close to your heart
- You can be philanthropic and help people who are in challenging situations
- You get the positive impact of tax breaks for donating to charity.
You also have the option of putting your own time into working with these charitable causes. You can use your expertise and experience to guide them, help with fundraising or provide hands-on support at events, community projects or lobbying the Government for greater support.
The end of the road, or a new chapter?
Once the business is sold and you close your office door for the last time, you take a step into the unknown. But with so many varied and valuable options to choose from, your life post-exit need never be boring or predictable.
The potential is there for an exciting new venture, or the pleasure of relaxing in the sunshine by the pool. It’s up to you to define the next chapter in your life and your business career.
If you’re thinking about exiting your business, please do get in touch. We’ll help you plan your exit strategy, add value pre-sale and choose the best options for your personal future.
Talk to us about your next step.
Ascentant Accountancy are based in Derby (01332 981920, email@example.com) and Ripley, Derbyshire (01773 424009, Ripley@ascentant.co.uk), call us to see how we can assist.