After bankruptcy, an entrepreneur rebuilds

After losing my first business, I built a successful new one and learned to live debt-free.

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(Fortune Small Business) -- Last year I told Fortune Small Business about my decision to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2005 after my three Dallas-based restaurants went under. I opened up to readers because I wanted to show them that there is no shame in bankruptcy; it's not an escape hatch for people who lack business ethics, but an opportunity for recovery when bad things happen.

Since filing, I've worked three jobs to provide for my family and pay off my debt. In addition to running my public relations firm, Big Ink, I broker commercial leases and consult in the restaurant industry.

I worried that potential clients wouldn't view me as an expert anymore after my bankruptcy, but that wasn't the case - I gradually accrued real estate clients, some of whom bought PR services from Big Ink. Today my PR firm does about $400,000 a year in sales and has four employees.

Sometimes I think of Big Ink as a phoenix rising from the ashes.

One of the most important lessons I've learned over the past two years is how to live debt-free. In 2005 my wife and I enrolled in a course on restoring financial health; I've since used the methods we learned to run my business.

Thanks to those practices and the help of my friends, I've been able to rebound from bankruptcy. I will soon pay off the last of my debts - the end is in sight.  To top of page

iReport: How's your business faring? How are the economic pressures affecting your business? Are you making fewer sales? Doing less advertising? Working longer hours? Or, has your firm found a way to thrive in the current environment? Send your photos and videos, and they could be profiled in an upcoming CNNMoney.com story.

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