In this bankruptcy blog I’ve been writing a lot about small business owners. As a consumer bankruptcy specialist in the state of Indiana, I have learned over my many years of practice how intertwined business finances and personal finances are for almost all small businesses. While, depending upon the business structure, it is possible for a business to file bankruptcy without the owner filing a personal bankruptcy, I still find that, nine out of ten, both the family and the business feel the pain when debts pile up.

That’s why I was so interested in a story I read in the Indianapolis Star a couple of weeks ago featuring the Timms, who were just honored as Indiana’s Small Business Persons of the Year. I know that many of you who read my Indiana bankruptcy blog are going through difficult financial times right now, and I thought this tale of survival against all odds might prove as inspiring to you as it was to me.

Almost five years ago, Cottage Garden, a sentimental gift making business, was on the brink of failure. Owners Mark and Angela Timms had maxed-out credit cards and a line of credit they thought they could never repay. Everyone was discouraged, from the owners to the Cottage Garden employees. As if things weren’t bad enough, a tornado completely destroyed the Timms’ home. It seemed as if the next step was a Going Out Of Business Sale!

But that’s not at all what happened. The Timms let their employees know that everyone’s help was needed to save the business, and, using teamwork, save the business is exactly what they did. Today Cottage Garden is the largest producer of sentimental music boxes in North America, with more than 600,000 boxes sold just last year!.

Can every business situation be saved with a combination of a positive attitude and teamwork? Of course not! Interesting thing, though – when business owners stop hiding from their difficulties and sit down with me to consider all the options (filing bankruptcy is just one of several options we discuss), that’s when the power of teamwork really kicks in. Suddenly the focus is not on what has happened, or what should have happened, but on what can happen from that point forward. And, often, that focus on future action is the most startling and yet the most encouraging turn-around of all!