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Recently in Ending a Business Category

Entrepreneurs are optimists. And even those with a long-term view on their startups often don't envision leaving those companies, much less failing or being forced to close. But ending a business is as much a reality as starting one, and planning for the worst is as essential as hoping for the best.

So here are five legal considerations if you're looking to end or exit your small business, from our archives:

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.

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.

It happens all too often that when a small business owner wants to retire they realize that they have no exit strategy. Sometimes the lack of an exit strategy is due to the expectation that a child will take over running the business. Unfortunately, what often gets overlooked is that not having an exit strategy can leave that child in a situation where much of the business is lost.

The sooner a small business owner recognizes the need for an exit plan (aka a succession plan), especially if that plan is simply to transfer the business to their kids rather than sell it off, the better off the business will be. The following checklist, while broad, should help small business owners plan their exit and transfer the business to their kid(s).

What to Include in a Startup Prenup

It's never a good idea to partner up with a colleague or family member based on a handshake and your word. Just ask the lawyers who get tasked with sorting out the mess after the partnership hits an iceberg and sinks. If you consult an attorney before entering a partnership or starting a business with one or more other people, the most important thing you'll be told is to put the agreement in writing.

The current trend for startups to get a prenup is nothing new. The only new part of this trend is calling the written agreement a prenup. It has always been advisable to make sure any partnership agreements are in writing. But what you need to include in your agreement can vary depending on who you'll be working with, what you'll be working on, and how you'll be making or spending money.

We hear all the time about unemployment benefits for laid off workers. (Or at least you should -- if you're a business owner, chances are you and your employees are paying into the unemployment system.) But what about unemployment benefits for failed entrepreneurs? If you owned an unlucky small business, are you out of luck when it comes to unemployment?

While each state may run their unemployment benefit programs a little differently, there is one general rule to unemployment for small business owners: pay in, get paid.

This week is the SBA's Small Business Week, so we'll be featuring legal advice for small businesses all week long. Today's topic is closing up the shop you opened -- how to sell or end your business.

Most entrepreneurs don't want to think about walking away from the companies they've founded, but that day comes for almost all of them. Whether you're moving on to the next big challenge or riding off into the sunset of retirement, the day will come when you and your small business part ways, so here's how to be prepared and to sell or end your business in the right way at the right time.

Let's face it, when you were getting your company started, you probably weren't thinking about how your days with it would end. And even some serial entrepreneurs haven't perfected their exit strategies. In some cases, it can be hard to say goodbye to the business you built; in other cases, it seems impossible to extricate yourself from your partners.

Either way, having an exit strategy can not only help your leave your small business efficiently and on good terms, it can ensure your business keeps going after you're on to the next thing.

Walmart announced last week that it will be closing 269 stores and laying off thousands of employees by the end of the month. But the news isn't all bad for the brand -- the mega-retailer also announced plans to open 300 to 400 new stores in the next year, most of those overseas.

It's worse news for the thousands of employees that may need to find new jobs. Due to this concern, federal law requires employers to alert employees before mass layoffs and possibly provide skill training or retraining programs for affected workers. So does the law apply to Walmart's store closures? And did they comply?

Nobody wants to bail on a business they built from the ground up. But some circumstances, like enough success to be acquired or a necessary shift in the company's strategy, may require a founder to step aside.

Finding yourself in this situation can be heartbreaking or a blessing, but either way it can also be legally complicated. And you may need to be careful to protect yourself, your finances, and your future if you plan on leaving the company you've founded.