When Bankruptcy is just a part of doing business

At times, a consumer’s take on filing bankruptcy seems to be so much different than that of a small or medium sized business.  On any given week, you can find articles in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times that discuss some individual that has reached a high level of success in their field.  In several stores, that individual has filed Bankruptcy at one point or another.  In other words, they’ve tried and failed at something. Many having failed several times.  The key difference seems to be that they simply shrug it off and continue.  I’m not talking about behemoths such as Quiznos, American Airlines, Kodak, or thousands of other large corporations.  Christophe Coppins, a well known accessories designer, filed for Bankruptcy after essentially walking away from his business to devote his full attention to art. Jerry Weintraub, a revered producer in Hollywood filed (his company) in 1990 and went on to produce scores of movies that have been critical and commercial successes.  And, we’ve all heard about this schmuck’s Bankruptcy filings ad nauseum.   There are countless others.  The essential difference seems to be the attitude surrounding the filing.


The consumer who walks into my office goes through a range of emotions when they know that have to file Bankruptcy.  They’re angry at themselves and their situation.  They’re depressed.  They’re upset because of failing relationship that always seem to come with the territory of financial issues.  They’re never ever upbeat.  They may be “determined” in that they want to get this over with, but they’re never smiling when they do this.  They never “shrug it off.”  It’s interesting to compare that to the untold numbers of people who have been part various ventures that have filed Bankruptcy.  I’m not for a second suggesting that a family based business that has been operating for decades is in any way “happy” to be filing.  They’re mad as hell and just as frustrated by their circumstances.  This has nothing to do with them.   But there are a certain group of people (some now in the tech world) that look at Bankruptcy as almost a price to pay if things go wrong.  They’re not necessarily emotional about it in any way.  They’re seemingly “detached” from the situation.  They don’t tend to process it in the “moral” prism as many individuals and small businesses do.  They don’t take it personally.  I’m not sure if that is anything to envy, but it seems as if they’re able to simply brush it off and move on.  Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is debatable, but it is certainly interesting to compare the two sides of the coin here.  Why do most people take filing Bankruptcy as some sort of moral indicator while many others simply believe it’s a law that allows them to get out of their financial hole and start over again?  Why do some do everything possible to avoid filing while others could care less (I’m discounting the microscopic fraction of people that may abuse the system)?  Just some food for thought.