Better fail: bankruptcy and mistakes as an opportunity

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Many founders are afraid of bankruptcy. But even if it is big: “Failure is also an opportunity - if you learn from your mistakes” - says someone who has gone through all stages of bankruptcy and is still successful today.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


First error

1992 had started well in Krefeld: Joachim Niering had noticed that there was a need for porcelain repairs, but hardly any companies that offered this service, let alone an appropriate training. The qualified pedagogue therefore provided founders with the commercial and technical know-how to repair porcelain, thus enabling them to set up their own business - as a franchisor. He brought the technical understanding from his time as a game device developer, the necessary capital came from his private assets.

Today he says that this was probably his first mistake. “I had been warned that 500.000 marks was too little capital. But I thought my idea was so good that I laughed at it. ” Now he knows: “Even the best ideas need a lead time before, for example, the brand is established - and that just costs a lot of money!”

Trust is good, control is better

His company also flourished for a few years: Niering gave his knowledge, the franchisees their license fees monthly. Then what happened to franchise systems without a strong brand often happened: the licensees made themselves independent. “They just lacked that Sense for the network concept, ”says Niering and admits himself self-critical today:“ Trust is good, control is better! ”

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They were followed by judicial battles, and suddenly the fee was lost. Niering filed an insolvency petition for the first time and reorganized the company with the help of an insolvency plan. This was expensive and meant to save money, continue the company, and also take in personal loans and bring them into the company.

First rescue, then sinking

After a four-year dry spell, the rescue plan was fulfilled - that was 200 The entrepreneur believed that he could rebuild the successful franchise system and failed again: “I frantically stuck to an idea that used to work instead of daring to try something new and only that Repeats mistakes, ”says Niering self-critically. The company went bankrupt and the entrepreneur fell ill.

But Niering seems almost relieved at the end: "At some point you have to realistically admit that you can't make it anymore." Even self-laceration has no meaning for him: The cardinal error that many desperately seek in this situation does not exist for Niering, rather there are various causes. However, he believes it is essential to look for an external consultant as an entrepreneur: “For example, I would have needed someone to show me my weaknesses in personnel management in good time. You don't always see something like that yourself. ”

In the end, private insolvency

Because of the liabilities still arising from the reorganization, the ex-entrepreneur finally had to register for private bankruptcy: he had nothing left, temporarily lived in a student apartment. But Niering didn't give up. “You have to make it clear that bankruptcy is an economic, but not a human breakdown and must not affect your whole life.

The important thing is to start over, ”he says - and has done it: Niering passes on his experience as a consultant for companies and private individuals:“ All of the clients I look after are still successful on the market today and are leading a normal life again, ”he reports proud.

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Why insolvency is not the end

Hildegard Allemand, specialist lawyer for insolvency law in Cologne, also confirms that bankruptcy cannot be the end, but a new beginning: "Enforcement measures by creditors are then no longer possible and, under certain circumstances, an operation can be continued without being burdened by the old liabilities." However, there must be enough assets left to open insolvency proceedings to at least cover the costs of the proceedings.

In the case of sole proprietors, the procedure can also be initiated by deferring the procedural costs. The insolvency proceedings are followed by the residual debt relief process, which brings about deleveraging. “This is a relief,” explains the lawyer, “because the warning letters and calls from the creditors, the debt collection agencies and the visits of the bailiff are finally ending. However, those affected must pay their attachable income for six years; there is always an obligation to work and provide information. After six years, the residual debt relief is then granted by court order.

GmbH managing director in duty

In the event of insolvency or over-indebtedness, a GmbH is obliged to file for bankruptcy. For GmbH managing directors, this often means their own debt if they have personally guaranteed the liability of the GmbH. "Knowing these consequences, some then try to save the company at any cost, but delay the bankruptcy of the GmbH, which is punishable," reports everyone from their day-to-day advice. There is no residual debt relief procedure for the GmbH, but the indebted managing director can choose the path of private insolvency with residual debt relief.

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German edition: ISBN 9783965964662

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