Lonelier than ever at the top

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Dealing with pressure, anxiety, and mental health during COVID-19

The COVID crisis has put our collective mental health and wellbeing firmly in the spotlight. Many business owners are fearful about the future and are being forced to take drastic steps to ensure the survival of their company. Entrepreneurs, perhaps fearful of also becoming personally insolvent, can find that their mental health is suffering as well as their finances.

Working very long hours, making difficult decisions on your own, navigating Government legislation, and applying for loans can in themselves be stressful events. Doing this while having to manage staff remotely, who may also be struggling with stress and worry, can bring on a great deal of additional pressure, anxiety, and mental health issues if not carefully managed.

Many loss-making businesses have been granted a stay of execution over the last few months thanks to the furlough scheme and other government initiatives meaning that key creditors don’t have to be paid. Businesses that are insolvent can therefore continue without much monthly expenditure.

A director may be reluctant to initiate formal insolvency proceedings even though the business has no chance of pulling through, as the staff won’t be able to claim furlough and will have to be made redundant.

This puts more pressure on directors facing a morale dilemma between doing what is legally required in terms of director duties and doing what is best for staff.

If you feel like you’re not coping, there are many organisations out there such as The Samaritans who are on hand to offer advice together with your local GP, friends, and family.

Lonely at the top

It can be lonely at the top and there are some worrying statistics illustrating that large numbers of once optimistic entrepreneurs are prone to suffer from depression and other related disorders. A recent Mental Health in Entrepreneurship survey from Natwest showed that 55% of respondents said that running a business has had a negative impact on their mental health. 58% of those surveyed experienced mental health issues including anxiety, stress, and depression. If you don’t take time to manage your own mental wellbeing it can start to affect business decision-making and make things worse, not better. But remember, you’re not alone. Businesses all over Britain and beyond are going through the same struggle.

When you are your business

When it’s your business, so much of who you are is tied up both with what your business does, and how well it does. If your business should come under threat, or it’s no longer viable, then you could feel the effects not only professionally but personally too. This is even more so in family businesses handed down through the generations, as the perceived ‘shame’ of undoing what your parents and grandparents worked hard to achieve brings even more pressure. Entrepreneurs generally wish to avoid failure at all costs and in our experience, this can lead to them taking risky decisions, burying their heads in the sand, and not looking after themselves. In short, making a bad situation even worse.

Ask for help – sooner rather than later

It’s really important that entrepreneurs seek professional advice as soon as the business is showing signs of stress. Acting early brings with it a broader range of options – the window of opportunity and available options narrows the longer that you leave it.

Seeking help early from advisors like us means that you’ll get an independent view of how healthy the business is and what remedial action can be taken, and we can act quickly to help ease the burden. There are a wide variety of options and support available to all businesses in terms of both government assistance and professional help. Don’t leave it too late to explore them.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with you

During times of financial difficulty in the business, there are so many issues that need to be dealt with quickly, and many stakeholders are owed a duty of care. This sometimes means that the mental well-being of the director caught in the middle of everything is not always addressed. We know it’s hard, and when we’re working with directors to get things back on track we’re empathetic but at the same time try to take the emotion out of the situation, helping them make the right decisions and get things back to a steady-state. We help with everything from negotiations with stakeholders like HMRC or lenders, to preparing financials, raising finance or helping you to access financial support from government. We’re also on hand 24/7 to deal with some of the more difficult issues that directors must face, such as employee redundancies, staff announcements and communications to key stakeholders.

We’ll take time to discuss any resulting personal implications from a company’s insolvency and ensure that, as a director, you’re aware of the ramifications of any decisions regarding the business, whether it be personal or helping you understand after-the-event issues of possible personal liability.

We are proud of the support we give, evidenced by the large number of personal recommendations we receive from past clients. There are a wide variety of options and support available to all businesses in terms of both government assistance and professional help. Don’t leave it too late to explore them. Take the first step towards getting help and press the button below to get in touch.