Should A Business Owner Pay Himself A Salary?

  • John A. Osborne
  • May 08, 2023
Small Business Insurance Illinois

As an entrepreneur or business owner, you have dedicated your time, energy, and resources to building your business from the ground up. You have invested your blood, sweat, and tears into your venture, and it is only natural that you expect to reap the rewards of your hard work. One of the questions that often arise for small business owners is whether they should pay themselves a salary. In this article, we will explore the various factors that influence this decision and provide some guidance on what may be the best choice for your business.

Before delving into the details, it is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The decision to pay yourself a salary as a business owner depends on various factors, such as the size and stage of your business, your personal financial situation, the industry you operate in, and the goals you have set for your enterprise. With that in mind, let us explore some of the key considerations that can help you make an informed decision.

The Pros of Paying Yourself a Salary

There are several benefits to paying yourself a salary as a business owner:

  • Steady Income – A regular paycheck can help you manage your personal finances more effectively, especially if you have bills to pay, loans to service, or a family to support.
  • Professionalism – Paying yourself a salary can help you establish a more formal and professional relationship with your business. It can also help you separate your personal and business finances, which is crucial for tax and legal purposes.
  • Tax Benefits – By paying yourself a salary, you can take advantage of tax deductions and other benefits that are not available to sole proprietors or other business structures.
  • Retirement Savings – Paying yourself a salary can allow you to contribute to retirement plans such as 401(k)s or IRAs, which can help you build a nest egg for the future.

The Cons of Paying Yourself a Salary

On the other hand, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Cash Flow – Paying yourself a salary can impact your business’s cash flow, especially if you are in the early stages of your business and do not have a steady revenue stream.
  • Legal and Tax Issues – Paying yourself a salary can entail legal and tax implications, such as compliance with minimum wage laws, employment taxes, and payroll reporting requirements.
  • Prioritization – Paying yourself a salary may force you to prioritize your personal needs over the needs of your business, which can lead to suboptimal decision-making.
  • Flexibility – Paying yourself a salary may limit your flexibility in terms of reinvesting profits back into your business, hiring new employees, or pursuing growth opportunities.

Finding the Right Balance

Ultimately, the decision to pay yourself a salary as a business owner depends on finding the right balance between your personal and business needs. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:

  • Evaluate Your Financial Goals – Consider your long-term financial goals, such as retirement planning or paying off debt, and how paying yourself a salary can help you achieve them.
  • Assess Your Business’s Financial Health – Look at your business’s cash flow, revenue, and profitability to determine whether paying yourself a salary is feasible and sustainable.
  • Explore Alternatives – Consider alternative ways to compensate yourself, such as owner’s draw or profit-sharing arrangements, that may be more suitable for your business structure and goals.
  • Consult with Professionals – Seek advice from financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys who can provide you with tailored guidance on the legal and tax implications of paying yourself a salary.


In conclusion, the decision to pay yourself a salary as a business owner is a complex and multifaceted one that requires careful consideration of various factors. While there are pros and cons to both options, the key is to find the right balance that aligns with your personal and business goals. By evaluating your financial situation, assessing your business’s health, exploring alternative compensation methods, and seeking professional guidance, you can make an informed decision that sets you on the path to success.

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