What 5 small businesses learned after failing in 2011

It has been another tough year for many small businesses. One in four, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, believes the biggest problem is weak sales. No matter what other challenges they face, said William Dunkelberg, the federation’s chief economist, “the key to everything is cash coming in the front door.”

Inevitably there are businesses, like the Elizabeth Anne Bed & Breakfast in Crested Butte, Colo., that struggled. And inevitably, there are owners, like Kevin and Denise Reinert of Elizabeth Anne, who held on as long as they could.

“We kept thinking we could turn it around,” Denise Reinert said. “We rented out rooms until the day we moved out.”

Here are the stories of five small businesses that were not able to survive 2011.

A poorly timed refinancing

The Elizabeth Anne Bed & Breakfast was bought in 2003 for $650,000 and closed in August.

At its peak: After buying the Elizabeth Anne, the Reinerts steadily increased revenue, from $78,000 in 2004 to $104,000 in 2007.

“We got to know the guests,” Kevin Reinert said, “and they got to know each other.”

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