The idea of dealing with the burden of business debt probably never occurred to you when you first started your business.
After all, you had researched the market and created a sound business plan that was good enough to raise sufficient capital to launch your business venture.
Unfortunately, business, like life, is often unpredictable.
Your profits may have gone down while your costs went up, and you slipped into debt to keep the business going. In a Fundera Ledger article, Gretchen Schmid explains: “According to a U.S. Bank study, a whopping 82% of businesses that fail do so because of cash flow problems. Remember that cash flow doesn’t just mean theamounts of money that are coming in and out: you have to take timing into account, too. If you operate a business based on an invoicing system, for example, and your invoices aren’t paid until after your loan payments are due, you might end up with a cash flow problem.”
Fortunately, there are many alternatives for debt recovery before thinking of the worst case scenario: filing for bankruptcy. While bankruptcy might save a small business from closing its doors, it should be considered your last resort after everything else you’ve tried to do has failed. This is because there are many unfortunate consequences.
First, you’ll end up paying from $8,000 to $10,000 for a small business bankruptcy attorney and for court filing fees.
Then, you have to deal with your damaged reputation as a business person, which will affect partnerships, alliances, customers and your chance of raising funds for future projects.
Finally, there is the damage to your credit score.
Here are some ways to climb out of debt that you might want to try:
- Collect debts owed to you and use this money to pay your creditors.
- Seek psychotherapeutic help to manage your increasing level of stress. It’s hard to think clearly about what to do when you are overwhelmed with worry. Talking to a professional counselor will help ameliorate your depression and anxiety.
- Get help from credit counselors. Since credit collection agents may call at all hours of the day and frequently use emotional manipulation to make you feel guilty or ashamed to negatively motivate you to pay up, credit counselors can help reduce the harassment and mediate your relationship between you and your creditors.
- Negotiate with creditors directly. One of the most important steps is to communicate with creditors as opposed to not answering the phone. They can’t work with you if you don’t give them a chance Describe the hardships you’re going through with your business and ask if they are open to a payment plan. Some may have a hardship policy to reduce the settlement.
- Since it’s unlikely that not all your bills are equally urgent, prioritize the order of how you will pay off your debt.
- Find ways of cutting your costs. Discontinue those vendor services that are not absolutely necessary for running your business. For instance, you may be paying subscriptions for a variety of website marketing programs.
- Know your fixed coverage ratio, which includes all of your company’s fixed obligations. This will help you determine how much cash flow you need to pay these obligations, and if you can’t pay them off you might need to consider going out of business.
- Sell off any assets that you don’t need. Look for ways that you can liquidate equipment, machines, or furniture that you no longer need to run your business.
- Avoid incurring more debt. You may have to revise your budget to see if you are spending too much on some unnecessary business overheads. Sometimes you may have to get rid of a recurring service or find a cheaper substitute for it. For instance, you may have a cleaning crew come in every evening. You can dispense with this service, reduce how often they show up, or hire a cheaper cleaning crew.
- It may be able to consolidate your loans into a single payment. This will make it easier to cut down on your monthly financial organization and costs. It will also save your credit.
- Look for ways to increase revenue. Increasing leads to attract more customers, raising your rates, or finding more ways to cross-sell or upsell are some ways to get more money coming in.
- Restructure your debt. Investopedia explains how this works: “If a company is largely financed at high interest rates, and current interest rates are significantly lower, the company can seek to refinance its existing debt at lower rates. This will reduce both interest expenses and monthly payments, improving the company’s bottom-line profitability and improve cash flow.”