Unless the owners are incredibly fortunate, every company will experience a level of financial strain at some point in its life. However, there is a distinct difference between being short of cash due to start-up or expansion costs and struggling to pay everyday expenses. While it may be tempting to keep calm and carry on as normal, hoping the debt will resolve itself, if your debt as reached such a level that you’re struggling to pay your creditors, this might not be possible.

If you’re experiencing any of the following signs of insolvency, you should seek advice from a licensed insolvency practitioner as soon as possible to stand a better chance of saving your company.

You’re unable to pay your liabilities when they fall due

The biggest indicator that you’re insolvent is being unable to pay your bills or debts when they’re due. This situation could be down to issues with your cash flow, or if those who owe you money haven’t paid on time. Either way, it could be tempting to defer or delay payments to suppliers, or some of the larger invoices.

Being unable to pay your liabilities is the very definition of insolvency. If you’re having to consider delaying payments to your creditors, you should speak to a licensed insolvency practitioner immediately.

Informal arrangements have failed

Some creditors may be open to informal repayment plans, allowing you to pay back your debt in instalments. The terms of these arrangements will vary depending on who set it up. However, if you find yourself unable to keep to the arrangement’s terms, your creditors will likely pull the plug, and may even demand full repayment immediately.

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In these cases, an insolvency practitioner can offer you advice on the best way forward, which may include a formal arrangement where you’re bound to pay a monthly amount towards your debt. Whether these arrangements will be suitable for you depends on your individual, or company’s circumstances.

Court Orders are piling up

In the UK, creditors may file County Court Judgements (CCJs) against you or your company if you don’t pay on time. If you don’t pay or resolve these court orders within the specified time, they will stay on your credit file and allow creditors to pursue further action. They could send bailiffs to your premises, or worse; apply to make you personally bankrupt, or petition to wind-up your company.

Having one court order on your record is worrying enough. If you have multiple orders against you or your business that you’re unable to pay, it may be time to seek the advice of a licensed insolvency practitioner.

You’ve failed payment arrangements with the tax office

If your company is UK based and has fallen behind with your payments of corporation tax, PAYE, National Insurance or VAT to HMRC, you can apply for Time to Pay Arrangements, which allow you to repay what you owe over a set period. Depending on your history and financial standing, HMRC could refuse these, or fail your arrangement if you’re unable to maintain your repayments.


All companies will experience some level of deficit at some point. But if your company is displaying one or more of these indicators of insolvency, they shouldn’t be ignored. Being unable to pay your bills is something you should watch out for; it could be an indicator or a prelude to further issues, as is court orders piling up against your business. 

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If you’ve already attempted an arrangement to repay your debts to creditors and HMRC, and these have been unsuccessful, you should contact a licensed insolvency practitioner and see if a more formal, legally binding agreement can be arranged. Regardless of whether such arrangements would be the best option for your business, the insolvency practitioner will still be able to give you advice on the best way forward, potentially stopping further action, saving your business.