Small Business Bankruptcy & Debt - Free Enterprise

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Despite most retailers still enjoying the revenues from the holiday shopping season, a former leader of department stores, Sears, is having a grim start to the year. In fact, analysts are predicting that Sears will be forced to declare bankruptcy within the next two years if something doesn't drastically change. CEO and billionaire Eddie Lampert is basically extending a line of credit to keep the retailer afloat.

While declaring bankruptcy for Sears may not be the end for the retailer, it is certainly looking like the likeliest path to continue existing at all. The retailer has been selling off assets, iconic properties, and even their exclusive brands. It's no secret that traditional brick and mortar retailers have been struggling since online shopping became normalized. However, many people have been fearing the fall of the Sears empire and what that means.

You may have thought that buying into an existing franchise, with its business plan, name recognition, and even supply chain all sorted, would be a less risky way to own your own business. But even less risky doesn't mean risk-free and not all franchisees avoid failure, as one Iowa-based McDonald's franchisee recently learned.

As it turns out, declaring bankruptcy as a franchisee has some different quirks than shuttering a business you own outright. For instance, what happens to your franchise license? Can a franchisor just take back your contract once you file for bankruptcy? Here's a look.

When an individual is financially underwater, they might explore bankruptcy as an option. However, when that individual is married, the question about whether or not to declare bankruptcy becomes more complicated. While they can and often do, spouses are not required to file for bankruptcy jointly.

Generally, bankruptcy will allow a person, business, or married couple, to get out from under debt either by liquidating assets to discharge the debts, or structuring a repayment plan. However, because there are restrictions on qualifying for bankruptcy, it is not always a viable option for married couples. Sometimes, only one spouse may actually qualify. When only one spouse declares bankruptcy, the non-declaring spouse needs to be aware of the ramifications.

Ending a business, or one particular venture, can often be a smart business decision. Sometimes an entrepreneur needs to cut their losses and move on to the next project. When a business owner reaches that point, they may be wondering about how to get back the dollars they invested into their business. If your business has any assets the answer may just be liquidation.

If you are thinking about liquidating your business, or just a few business assets, below are a few tips to consider.

If you're struggling to save money and survive, you are not alone. Many of the country's small businesses are essentially living month-to-month.

A new study from the JPMorgan Chase Institute showed that the average small business has just 27 days worth of cash reserves. So what is life like for small businesses living on the financial edge?

Gawker Files for Bankruptcy, Plans Auction and Resurrection

Gawker, the audacious upstart media company that lost a privacy trial to Hulk Hogan in Florida recently, is paying heavily for its audacity. Today it formally filed for bankruptcy and is entertaining offers from prospective buyers, reports Recode.

But don't wave goodbye to Gawker yet, as it is still a feisty company, and this is not clearly a sign of defeat. In fact it's a sign of more fight. Although it announced its intention to file for Chapter 11, the company's owner Nick Denton said that he intends to continue to publish and to fight the legal battle against Hulk Hogan, sponsored by billionaire Peter Thiel.

3 Tips to Avoid Small Business Bankruptcy

The last thing you imagined doing when you started your business is going bankrupt. Obviously, you were aiming much higher, and you're a survivor, and you would like to avoid making this particular dreaded declaration.

So what can you do? Let's take a look at what exactly bankruptcy is and three steps you can take to avoid it.

What Is Bankruptcy?

There are multiple types of bankruptcies, and you may be familiar with the terms associated with the most common of them, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. But generally speaking bankruptcy is a federal court procedure that helps consumers and businesses to either liquidate or reorganize, clear debts, and pay off creditors.

People always complain how hard it is to achieve a good work-life balance, and to keep business and personal matters separate. At no time is that more true than when your small business gets sued. All of a sudden you're wondering what you could lose if your business loses the lawsuit.

Depending on the corporate structure of your small business, you could be personally liable for business debts, including legal judgments. Which means they could come for your home, unless you take the proper precautions to protect your home in a business lawsuit.

Most small business owners structure their companies and ownership interests so that the debts of the business don't become the debts of the owner. (We're looking at you, sole proprietors.) But what if the shoe is on the other foot? Could your personal debt or bankruptcy filing drag your business down?

For entrepreneurs that already put too much of themselves into their business, it might be nice to know that personal debt isn't one of those things. So here are some protections that businesses have against the personal debt of their owners.

Let's face it -- not every small business is going to make it. And those that don't can normally claim some protection in bankruptcy, if necessary. Well, those that also don't sell marijuana, that is.

The Tenth Circuit recently held that debtors in the marijuana business can't obtain relief in federal bankruptcy court. Here's why: