How do I get rid of business debt

Ways to clear your business debtBusiness debt can be a daunting obstacle for company owners, hindering financial freedom and impeding business growth.

Finding effective ways to get rid of business debt becomes crucial in regaining control over finances and unlocking new opportunities.

By implementing strategic financial planning, efficient cash flow management, and proactive debt reduction strategies, business owners can navigate their way towards eliminating their debt burdens.

In this article, we explore practical approaches and actionable steps that can help company owners successfully get rid of their business debt, allowing them to reclaim stability and focus on propelling their ventures to new heights

Ways to clear your business debt

Clearing business debt requires a proactive and disciplined approach, but it is certainly achievable with the right strategies. For UK business owners, there are specific options available to help alleviate and eliminate debt.

One effective method is seeking assistance from organisations such as Business Insolvency Helpline, which provides free, confidential advice to small businesses facing financial difficulties.

The UK government also offers various support schemes, including the Business Finance Recovery Scheme and the Debt Relief Order, which can provide relief for eligible businesses.

Additionally, exploring alternative financing options, such as invoice financing or asset-based lending, can help generate quick cash flow to pay off outstanding debts.

Engaging with a licensed insolvency practitioner may be necessary in more severe cases, as they can guide business owners through formal insolvency procedures like administration or company voluntary arrangements.

It’s important for UK business owners to be aware of these resources and seek professional advice to navigate their way towards debt clearance and financial recovery.

Different ways to get out of business debt

Here are a number of different ways to get out of debt:

Informally negotiated arrangement

In certain situations, business owners may opt for an informally negotiated arrangement with their business creditors, which can include making full and final offers to help reduce and eliminate debt. This approach involves direct communication and negotiation with creditors to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

The business owner may propose a lump sum payment or a series of payments to creditors in exchange for a reduced debt amount, often referred to as a “full and final settlement.” This method can be beneficial as it allows for flexibility and customization based on the specific circumstances of the business and the willingness of the creditors to negotiate.

However, it is essential to approach this process with careful consideration, ensuring that all parties are satisfied with the proposed terms and that any agreements reached are properly documented to avoid future disputes.

Pros of an Informally Negotiated Arrangement:

  1. Flexibility: Informal negotiations offer greater flexibility compared to formal insolvency procedures. Business owners can tailor the terms of the arrangement to their specific needs and financial capabilities, allowing for more creative and personalized solutions.
  2. Cost Savings: Choosing an informal arrangement can be more cost-effective compared to formal insolvency processes, which often involve significant legal and administrative expenses. By negotiating directly with creditors, business owners can potentially save on professional fees associated with formal procedures.
  3. Preservation of Reputation: Informal arrangements help maintain the business owner’s reputation by avoiding the stigma often associated with formal insolvency proceedings. This can be crucial for maintaining relationships with suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders, allowing the business to continue operating without disruption.

Cons of an Informally Negotiated Arrangement:

  1. Lack of Legal Protection: Unlike formal insolvency processes, informal arrangements do not provide the same level of legal protection for the business owner. Creditors may still pursue legal action or enforcement measures, which could hinder the success of the negotiated arrangement.
  2. Limited Creditor Cooperation: Some creditors may be unwilling to negotiate or accept full and final offers, especially if they believe they can recover a higher amount through formal insolvency proceedings. It can be challenging to secure the agreement of all creditors, potentially complicating the debt reduction process.
  3. Uncertain Outcome: Informal arrangements rely heavily on the willingness of creditors to accept the proposed terms. There is no guarantee that all creditors will agree to the negotiated settlement, which may lead to an incomplete resolution of the debt problem or even the need for formal insolvency proceedings as a last resort.

It is important for business owners to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of an informally negotiated arrangement

Individual voluntary arrangement

For sole traders burdened with overwhelming business debt, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement can be a viable solution to regain control of their finances and eliminate debt. What is an IVA, an IVA is a formal agreement between the sole trader and their creditors, facilitated by a licensed insolvency practitioner.

It allows the individual to repay a portion of their debts over a fixed period, typically five years, while freezing interest and charges. With an IVA, the sole trader can consolidate their debts into a single affordable monthly payment, based on their income and expenditure. This arrangement provides protection from creditor action, including legal proceedings and enforcement actions. At the end of the agreed period, any remaining debt is usually written off.

An IVA provides a structured framework for sole traders to manage their debt and avoid bankruptcy, allowing them to focus on rebuilding their business without the constant burden of unmanageable debt. It is essential to seek professional advice from an insolvency practitioner experienced in IVAs to determine its suitability and navigate the process effectively.

Pros of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA):

  1. Debt Consolidation: An IVA allows the individual to consolidate multiple debts into a single, manageable monthly payment. This simplifies the repayment process and reduces the administrative burden of dealing with multiple creditors.
  2. Protection from Legal Action: Once an IVA is in place, creditors are legally bound by its terms and are prevented from taking legal action or pursuing enforcement actions against the individual. This provides relief from the constant stress of potential legal proceedings.
  3. Debt Write-Off: At the end of the agreed-upon period, any remaining debt included in the IVA is usually written off. This means that the individual can become debt-free, with the remaining balance cleared, providing a fresh start and the opportunity to rebuild their financial stability.

Cons of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA):

  1. Impact on Credit Rating: Entering into an IVA will have a negative impact on the individual’s credit rating. This can make it challenging to obtain credit in the future and may limit their ability to secure loans or financing for personal or business purposes.
  2. Potential Asset Implications: In some cases, the individual may be required to release equity from their assets, such as property, as part of the IVA arrangement. This can impact their personal financial situation and potentially disrupt their long-term plans or investments.
  3. Limited Debt Types: Not all types of debt can be included in an IVA. Certain obligations, such as student loans, court fines, and child support payments, are typically excluded. This means that the individual will still be responsible for repaying these debts separately, which can pose challenges in terms of financial management.

It’s important to carefully consider these pros and cons and seek professional advice from an insolvency practitioner or financial advisor before deciding whether an IVA is the right solution for one’s specific financial circumstances.

Company voluntary arrangement

A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) can provide limited company business owners with an effective mechanism to reduce their debt burden and regain financial stability.

A CVA is a formal agreement between the company and its creditors, supervised by a licensed insolvency practitioner. It allows the company to propose a repayment plan to creditors, typically spanning three to five years, during which a portion of the debt is repaid based on the company’s affordability.

This arrangement provides several benefits, including a halt on legal actions from creditors and protection against winding-up petitions. By implementing a CVA, business owners can consolidate their debts into a single manageable payment, free up cash flow, and potentially negotiate reductions in interest rates and debt amounts.

Additionally, the company can continue its operations and focus on restructuring and profitability while meeting its financial obligations. The success of a CVA relies on careful planning, transparency, and the support of creditors, making it essential for business owners to seek professional advice from an insolvency practitioner to navigate the process effectively.

Pros of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA):

  1. Debt Reduction: A CVA allows a limited company to negotiate with creditors and propose a repayment plan that reduces the overall debt burden. This can help the company achieve significant savings, as creditors may agree to accept a lower amount than the original debt owed.
  2. Business Continuity: Unlike more drastic measures such as liquidation or bankruptcy, a CVA allows the company to continue operating and trading. This provides an opportunity for the business to restructure, improve profitability, and ultimately recover from financial difficulties.
  3. Creditor Agreement: A CVA requires the approval of a majority of creditors, usually in terms of value owed. Once approved, all participating creditors are bound by the terms of the arrangement, providing the company with legal protection from further creditor actions.

Cons of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA):

  1. Credit Rating Impact: Entering into a CVA will have a negative impact on the company’s credit rating. This can make it more challenging to obtain credit in the future, affecting relationships with suppliers, lenders, and other business partners.
  2. Potential Financial Constraints: The repayment plan outlined in a CVA requires the company to allocate a portion of its revenue towards debt repayment over an extended period. This can place financial constraints on the business, limiting cash flow available for day-to-day operations or growth initiatives.
  3. Creditor Disagreements: While a CVA requires the agreement of a majority of creditors, there is a risk that some creditors may not support the proposed arrangement. This can complicate the process, potentially leading to the failure of the CVA and the need to explore alternative debt resolution options.

It is crucial for limited company with debt to carefully consider the pros and cons of a CVA, assess its suitability for their specific circumstances.

Creditors voluntary liquidation

Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) can provide limited company directors with a mechanism to effectively address and eliminate their business debt. In a CVL, initiated by the directors, the company’s assets are liquidated and used to repay creditors. By taking this proactive approach, directors can take control of the situation and ensure a fair distribution of company assets to creditors.

The process is supervised by a licensed insolvency practitioner who acts as the liquidator. CVL offers several benefits, including the orderly winding down of the company’s affairs, the potential for a fresh start, and the opportunity for directors to avoid personal liability for the company’s debts.

It allows directors to focus on closing the business in a responsible manner while minimizing the negative impact of accumulated debt

Pros of Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL):

  1. Orderly Closure: CVL allows for a structured and orderly wind-down of the company’s affairs. It provides a clear process for the distribution of company assets to creditors, ensuring a fair and transparent resolution.
  2. Debt Relief: By initiating CVL, company directors can effectively address and eliminate accumulated business debt. This can provide a fresh start and relieve the burden of financial obligations, allowing directors to move on without the weight of unsustainable debt.
  3. Director Control: Unlike compulsory liquidation, where a company is forced into liquidation by a creditor, CVL is initiated by the directors themselves. This grants directors more control over the process and allows them to proactively manage the liquidation in a way that aligns with their objectives and priorities.

Cons of Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL):

  1. Impact on Credit Rating: Entering into CVL will have a significant impact on the company’s credit rating and may also affect the credit ratings of the directors involved. This can make it challenging to secure credit or loans in the future and may impact their ability to operate as directors of other companies.
  2. Loss of Assets: In CVL, the company’s assets are liquidated to repay creditors. This means that directors may lose control over the assets and the ability to use them for personal or business purposes. It’s essential to carefully evaluate the potential loss of assets and consider the implications for the directors’ personal financial situations.
  3. Director Disqualification: If there is evidence of misconduct or wrongful trading, directors may face disqualification from acting as directors of other companies. This can have long-term implications on their professional reputation and career opportunities within the business sector.

Pre pack administration

A Pre-Pack Administration can offer a solution to distressed limited companies seeking to eliminate their debt and restructure their operations.

In this process, a sale of the company’s assets is pre-arranged before formally entering into administration. The sale is typically facilitated by an insolvency practitioner who acts as the administrator. This approach enables a seamless transition, allowing the business to continue operating without interruption under new ownership, while shedding off burdensome debt.

By quickly disposing of non-performing assets, renegotiating contracts, and restructuring the business, a Pre-Pack Administration can help the distressed company shed its financial liabilities and focus on a fresh start.

However, it is important to note that this process can be subject to scrutiny, as it involves selling assets to connected parties, such as directors or shareholders. Therefore, transparency and compliance with regulatory guidelines are vital to ensure fairness and mitigate potential concerns.

Pros of Pre-Pack Administrations:

  1. Business Continuity: Pre-Pack Administrations allow for a seamless transition of the distressed business to new ownership. By quickly selling the company’s assets, operations can continue without significant interruption, preserving jobs and maintaining relationships with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
  2. Debt Reduction: Pre-Pack Administrations provide an opportunity to shed off burdensome debt. The sale of assets at fair market value allows the company to generate funds to repay creditors, reducing the overall debt load and providing a fresh start for the business.
  3. Speed and Efficiency: Pre-Pack Administrations are typically executed swiftly, minimizing the time and costs associated with traditional insolvency processes. This allows for a faster resolution of the distressed situation, enabling the business to move forward more promptly.

Cons of Pre-Pack Administrations:

  1. Lack of Transparency: Pre-Pack Administrations can raise concerns about transparency, as the sale of assets is often pre-arranged before entering administration. Critics argue that this process may not provide fair value for the assets, especially when they are sold to connected parties, such as directors or shareholders.
  2. Creditor Disadvantage: In some cases, creditors may feel disadvantaged by a Pre-Pack Administration, as the sale of assets may not generate sufficient funds to fully repay their outstanding debts. This can lead to dissatisfaction and potential legal disputes from creditors who believe they have not been adequately compensated.
  3. Reputation and Perception: The use of Pre-Pack Administrations can attract negative publicity and damage the reputation of the distressed company and its directors. The perception of a company appearing to “discard” its debts through a quick sale of assets can lead to strained relationships with stakeholders and potentially impact future business opportunities.

Conclusion

As a business owner burdened with significant debt, it’s crucial to know that you have options to alleviate your financial situation. Whether it’s exploring debt consolidation, considering formal arrangements like an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), or exploring other debt resolution methods, there are avenues available to help you get rid of business debt and regain control of your finances.

Each option has its own advantages and considerations, and seeking professional advice from an insolvency practitioner or financial advisor is highly recommended to determine the best course of action for your specific circumstances. If you need further assistance or guidance, we’re here to help.

Simply complete our online enquiry form, and our team will be in touch to provide the support you need in navigating the path towards debt relief and financial recovery. Take the first step towards a debt-free future by reaching out today.

Insolvency & Restructuring Expert at Business Insolvency Helpline | + posts

With over three decades of experience in the business and turnaround sector, Steve Jones is one of the founders of Business Insolvency Helpline. With specialist knowledge of Insolvency, Liquidations, Administration, Pre-packs, CVA, MVL, Restructuring Advice and Company investment.