401(k) Plans

Your Complete Guide to 401(k) Plans for Small Businesses

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What is a 401(k) plan?

Think that 401(k) plans are just for large businesses with a budget to match? Think again.

Every day, Ubiquity Retirement + Savings™ helps small and startup companies and their employees reap the rewards of tax-deferred retirement savings—without the complexity and without the big price tag.

With a small business 401(k), you (and your employees, if you have them) can save for retirement while lowering your taxable income. Contributions you and your employees make to a 401(k) plan are contributed on a pre-tax basis. In the short term, that translates to a smaller tax bite on your annual salary. In the long run, it means extra security as your investments grow tax-free until you’re ready to retire.

Thinking about starting a retirement plan for yourself or your small company? Read on to get the facts from this complete guide to 401(k) plans made easy.

Why choose a 401(k) plan?

We all have goals for how we’d like to spend our retirement. Maybe you’d like to travel the world. Maybe you’d like to have something to leave for your loved ones. Maybe you just want to make sure you can provide for yourself and your family after you retire.

Whatever your goals, saving in a 401(k) plan is one of the best ways to achieve them. By setting aside relatively small amounts from your pay today and letting your savings grow through your working years, you can make sure you have income when you stop working. Get started saving now so you can have the freedom to choose how you want to live when you retire.

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Why save with a 401(k) plan instead of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?

Both 401(k)s and IRAs are both great ways to save for your retirement and lower your taxes. There are two big differences between a 401(k) and IRA: with an IRA, you have to set it up yourself and the amount that you can save pre-tax is a third of what you can save in a 401(k). 401(k) plans are established by an employer, including an owner-only/sole proprietor business. They also allow employers to contribute to their employees’ retirement savings, up to 25% of the employee’s compensation.

401(k) plans have higher contribution limits for you (and your employees, if you have them). Contribute up to $22,500 for 2023, plus up to $7,500 in catch-up contributions if you’re 50 or older. With an IRA, 2023 maximum contribution is $6,500 plus $1,000 in catch-up contributions if you’re 50 or older.

You don’t actually have to choose between a 401(k) and an IRA to save for your retirement—you can contribute to both—but there are rules to do so.

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What are the types of 401(k) plans?

If you’re trying to learn about 401(k) plans, you may feel overwhelmed by all the information and terms out there. Rest easy; it’s a lot less complicated than it seems. Here are the different types you might have heard about:

Small business 401(k)

A small business 401(k) plan is basically the same as a large business 401(k): a plan that lets you take money from your pay (before paying taxes on it) to save for your retirement. No matter the size of the business, a 401(k) plan has the same benefits and the same maximum contributions. The difference is that retirement plans big businesses get complicated—and expensive.

Big business 401(k) plans are designed for businesses with hundreds or thousands of employees. Because they are more complex, they often require in-person enrollment meetings and special human resources training. Most 401(k) plans for large businesses also have high fees—including assets under management, or AUM fees. AUM fees are charged based on a percentage of the money in your account. That means that the more you save, the higher the fees.

The Ubiquity 401(k) plans detailed below are all small business 401(k) plans. They’re designed for small businesses and individuals who don’t have lots of time and budget to devote to managing a retirement plan. We eliminate all the jargon and offer straightforward, transparent monthly fees—and zero AUM fees—so you can jump in and start saving in minutes while contributing more towards your bottom line.

Individual 401(k), solo 401(k), and self-employed 401(k)

It may sound like an individual 401(k), a solo 401(k), and a self-employed 401(k) are different types of plans, but in reality, all three terms are describing the same thing. An individual, solo, or self-employed 401(k) is a 401(k) plan designed for self-employed people and sole-proprietor businesses. They offer the same savings flexibility and tax advantages of any other 401(k) plan, but in a way that is easy for individuals to manage themselves.

Individual 401(k) plans like the Single(k)® plan from Ubiquity offers a simple, low-fee plan to help individual business-owners start saving right away.

Self-directed 401(k)

A self-directed 401(k) plan is similar to a traditional 401(k), in that they allow for pre-tax savings and automated paycheck deductions. Where self-directed 401(k) plans differ from some types of traditional 401(k) plans is that employees can choose themselves where to invest their funds. This differs from some traditional employer  plans where the employer chooses the investment options for employees.

401(k) plans for individuals, like Ubiquity’s Single(k)® plan, are self-directed by default since the employer is the only one contributing to the plan.

SIMPLE 401(k)

A SIMPLE 401(k) plan is, in many ways, a hybrid between traditional 401(k) plans and IRAs. Like with IRAs, employers offering SIMPLE 401(k) plans don’t have to worry about testing their plan for compliance with certain regulatory requirements. Also like IRAs and traditional 401(k) plans, both employers and employees can take loans against their retirement savings, and pay back funds and interest to their own accounts. SIMPLE 401(k) plans do, however, have some disadvantages:

You don’t have the flexibility to customize a SIMPLE 401(k) plan for the unique needs of yourself or your business the way you do with a 401(k). If you have employees in the plan, any contributions that you (the employer) make to your employees’ plans are immediately vested. That means your employees own those funds (and can take them with them to a new job) the moment they are contributed. With a 401(k), employers can set vesting schedules, so that employer contributions are only fully vested after the employee stays with the company for a certain amount of time.

Finally, SIMPLE 401(k) plans have lower contribution limits than traditional 401(k) plans. For 2023, the maximum contribution to a SIMPLE 401(k) plan is $15,500 plus an additional catch-up contribution of $3,500 for people age 50 or older, which provides less savings opportunity than a traditional 401(k), with a 2023 limit of $22,500.

Because of all these disadvantages, Ubiquity does not offer SIMPLE 401(k) plans. We find that most individuals and businesses get more benefit from a traditional 401(k).

“I am a new plan sponsor for my employer with Ubiquity. The friendliness of customer support was outstanding. So far, I am very impressed with Ubiquity! ”

- Alan Drage, Great Basin Scientific

What are the best 401(k) plans for my company?

No matter the type or size of your small business, whether you’re a sole proprietor or have dozens of employees, Ubiquity can help you save.

“Ubiquity: Very solid service and performance.”

- John Barker

Group Plan – Reserve(k)®

What it is: All inclusive, customizable savings for small businesses. Get the white glove treatment with a 401(k) retirement savings plan designed for you, with extras included.

Who it’s for: Small businesses with 1-100+ employees who want to maximize their tax savings.

How much can I save? Contribute up to the 401(k) maximum—up to $22,500 for 2023 ($30,000 if you’re age 50 or older).

Group Plan – Custom(k)®

What it is: Customizable savings for small businesses. Get a fully optimized 401(k) retirement savings plan tailored just for your needs.

Who it’s for: Small businesses with 1-100+ employees who want a plan personalized to their needs.

How much can I save? Contribute up to the 401(k) maximum—up to $22,500 for 2023 ($30,000 if you’re age 50 or older).

Group Plan – Saver(k)®

What it is: A budget-friendly retirement solution, tailored by experts for small business owners.

Who it’s for: Small businesses with 1-50 employees that want to get a plan in place quickly and keep administration as simple as possible.

How much can I save? Contribute up to the 401(k) maximum—up to $22,500 for 2023 ($30,000 if you’re age 50 or older).

Individual Plan – Single(k)®

What it is: Smart savings for solo business owners. Get a big business 401(k) plan even as a one-person operation.

Who it’s for: Sole proprietors and businesses with no full-time employees.

How much can I save? Contribute up to the 401(k) maximum—up to $22,500 for 2023 ($30,000 if you’re age 50 or older) plus optional employer contribution up to $43,500.

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Additional resources for 401(k) plans





Flat fees are charged by Decimal, Inc. for recordkeeping and administrative services. Third-party service providers may assess asset-based fees to customers. Plan Sponsors are advised to review all service agreements with providers (e.g., investment advisors, custodians, broker-dealers) to evaluate total plan costs.

© 2023 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings
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44 Montgomery Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94104
Support: 855.401.4357

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© 2023 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings
Privacy Policy
Do not sell my info
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94104
Support: 855.401.4357

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