Entrepreneurs

After founding a company, a young CEO focuses on rebuilding her savings

Co-founder and managing partner at DigitalFlash, Laura Mignott
Monica Schipper | Getty Images
Co-founder and managing partner at DigitalFlash, Laura Mignott

Laura Mignott is ecstatic that her New York-based company DFlash is once again on pace to surpass the million-dollar revenue mark this year.

Mignott, an entrepreneur in her mid-30s with roots in Jamaica, has run a boutique branding agency since 2011 that tells the story of both startups and established brands like Samsung and Chevy.

Now that the business is on solid footing, Mignott is playing catch up on her retirement savings.

More from USA Today:
Here's why businesses in the South are more optimistic
How to teach your kids about money
How to negotiate the best job package

Most Americans are falling short of the savings needed to retire comfortably. Millennials like Mignott are no exception. According to a 2016 study by GoBanking Rates that looked at how Americans' savings differ by life stage, 42% of Millennials indicated they have no retirement savings.

"I wanted to build up the business, so I basically dumped most of my savings, $40,000, into DFlash as we kicked off," she says.

This CEO considers herself an accidental entrepreneur. "I was working a full-time job, then there was the crash of '08 and I got laid off," she says. "There was a lot economic uncertainty and I went through a couple of different jobs."

Eventually, she cashed out her 401(k) and used part of that savings to help start DFlash with a former business partner. "When you run a business, the idea of saving is so far out of your mind because you're constantly trying to figure out how to budget," she says. "Having that emergency savings account helped foster and grow the business."

Now, she's turning her attention toward retirement.

"I've had some conversations with a financial planner whom I'm about to officially hire," she says. So far, Mignott has set up a Roth IRA and a 401(k) but also has her sights on investing in some startups.

The socially conscious Millennial says: "I don't want invest in the new hot toy. It has to make sense for what I want to be involved in as opposed to a random idea that sounds awesome."

There's also the $50,000 in student loan debt hanging over her head. Her plan? "Let's put it this way: I don't want to be 40 and still paying off my student loans," she says.

If her company can afford to pay her a larger salary in the near future, she projects that she will pay off a good chunk of the debt in a few years.

For Millennials still on the fence about saving for the future, Mignott says use the many online tools available to learn about different types of investments. Then set it and forget it.

"Also, find good quality experts who give real advice, then take it," she adds. Most important, "Do not wait."

speaks onstage during The Scale Collective, the inaugural event being produced by Virago, a strategic advisory supporting women entrepreneurs at Hudson Mercantile on November 2, 2016 in New York City.
Monica Schipper | Getty Images

Russell Robertson, a certified financial planner and owner of ATI Wealth Partners in Atlanta, says he likes that Mignott understands the importance of prioritizing saving for retirement but says she shouldn't discount her success.

"Laura is not necessarily behind the eight-ball," he says. "If her company is earning $1 million annually with a five-person business, investing in the business over the last seven years has paid off."

For Millennials like Mignott who think they are late to the retirement-saving party, he offers this advice:

Take advantage of peak earning years

If you're freaking out because you didn't start investing when you were 21, rest assured. "If you are 30, 40, or even 45, you still have 20-25 years before you're looking at retirement," says Robertson. "The upside to starting now is that you can likely save more because you're earning more and your savings will substantially grow."

Increase your emergency savings

Typically, advisors recommend saving three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund. But if your portfolio is too heavily concentrated in one area, Robertson recommends saving at least 12 months of expenses to hedge against major losses. Having that cushion gives you time to figure out what you want to do next.

Automatically increase 401(k) contributions

A lot of companies offer a feature where your contribution can be automatically increased by a certain percentage each year. "If you're just starting to save, you may feel uncomfortable with a lot of money coming out of your paycheck at once," says Robertson. Increase your investment by 1% to 2% each year until you reach the maximum annual contribution.

Manage debt differently

"If we assume a conservative 5% return on the stock market and you have subsidized student loans that are 3½% or 4%, your money will be better off invested in the market," says Robertson. "However, if you have a private loan at 8% interest or a credit loan with a 20% interest rate, then they would be the priority because that will be a better return on that money."

Diversify your investments

Having all of your eggs in one business basket can be risky, says Robertson. "Being able to invest in other areas — whether it's the stock market, other startup companies, or real estate — helps diversify your assets," he advises.

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.

Don't miss: 4 habits to adopt in your 20s to be more successful in your 30s

This article originally appeared on USA Today.