Entrepreneurs—are you compensating yourself fairly and responsibly? Starting your own business can feel a little like exploring uncharted territory, so you may not know what your compensation is meant to look like. That’s why I’m here, to help you map out this new space you now find yourself occupying! 

So, let’s dig into the many areas to consider when compensating yourself as an entrepreneur. 

How Do Entrepreneurs Pay Themselves?

As an employee, you get to live comfortably in the knowledge that your predetermined wage will be distributed to you like clockwork each month. 

As an entrepreneur, it’s all up to you to make sure you get paid. Your success is determined by the success of your business, which may fluctuate at times. However, you should still be allocating a regular paycheck for yourself. You’re taking a huge risk by starting this business—compensate yourself for it. 

Now, business owners are generally paid in one of two ways:

  1. Salary: you determine a reasonable set wage for yourself each month and make sure you’re paid every pay period. 
  2. Owner’s draw, where a business owner withdraws funds from the business for personal use. This can happen regularly or just when needed, but I’d stick to a regular schedule for one important reason: it’s important to shift your mindset from employee to owner. To help make that happen you can set a regular amount in draws each month. If you decide to pay yourself $1000/week—do it! Don’t skip the payment and take exactly that amount each time to build a consistent paycheque. 

There are certain business types that only allow for one of these options. You’ll want to go the salary route if your business is incorporated, and the owner’s draw route if you’re a sole proprietorship or partnership. 

Employee Benefits as an Entrepreneur 

As an employee you’d have access to benefits such as a healthcare plan, paid time off, bonuses, and more. Just because you’re an owner doesn’t mean you don’t deserve these things too! After all, you deserve a nice long vacation after starting a whole business. 

Benefits are an important part of your compensation to invest in, and they have tax benefits! 

You should also be thinking about saving for your retirement. Set aside funds each month to plan for a comfortable life down the line. 

Tax Tips for Entrepreneurs

This one may be a bit of a learning curve for some. Most people didn’t go into business for themselves just to do more complex taxes each year. As a business owner, you will be responsible for taxes on both your personal income and your business profits. Here are some of my top tips for you as your navigate these unfamiliar waters: 

  • If you go the paycheck route for your compensation, federal income taxes, provincial and local taxes, healthcare, and retirement savings will be automatically taken out of that paycheck. However, this may not be enough as it doesn’t take into account taxes on your profits, so you may see some normal withholding. If you take the owner’s draw version of compensation, you may not have withholding but you will need to remember self-employment taxes. 
  • If you do business in multiple provinces, there may be some tax implications. If your company is incorporated in more than one province, the income from each province will be allocated appropriately and taxed based on that province’s regulations. However, if you don’t have a permanent establishment in multiple provinces, you can just file for the province you live in and operate out of. 
  • Your business’s profits will be taxed based on the federal income tax. For corporations, this is a 15% tax, while small businesses enjoy a reduced rate of 9% in Canada. 

If your business can afford to run, it can afford to compensate you comprehensively as an owner. Work on that mindset journey from employee to owner by paying yourself first. After all, you’re putting your blood, sweat, tears, time, assets, and more into it—you should get something back. 

When your company does well, you should do well. And, if you’re looking at all of these factors and thinking ‘well my business can’t afford to cover all of that’—it may be time to take a deeper look. 

If you’re hitting a wall when it comes to compensating yourself as an entrepreneur, I can help! I can automate the processes, walk you through the taxes, or (my favourite) get your profit tight and find room in the budget to make this happen for you. Let’s work together and get you paid!