Credit Matters Blog

Running On Empty – December 2020

Kim Radok 16 December 2020

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind

From the song Running On Empty by Jackson Browne

As we come to the end of 2020, there are many people which are in a worse position than they were at the beginning. Over the year there have been natural disasters in some parts of the world and the death of loved ones, plus lost businesses and work for many people due to the pandemic.

Many people have also lost faith in the people and institutions which they had formerly believed would help them survive these issues. Furthermore, for those people with their eyes wide open to the risks ahead, the world is in for many more problems in the coming years. In particular, even if there is success with vaccines, these vaccines do not mitigate the damage done in other ways to the communities of the world.

Despite the gloom and uncertainty for most people, there have been wonderful success stories for some as they have been able to forge new images and business opportunities. We have also seen a number of governments trying their best to support people, both in the short and long term, to survive the worst of the effects of the pandemic.

Let us also not forget the wonderful work of charities, neighbours and others who have done their best to support those in need. Truly, many of these organisations and people who have tried to support those in need, have been magnificent.

Notwithstanding the few bright spots within the economy and the green shoots of business optimism, the majority of people have not come through 2020 without some negative effects. Many of these effects are yet to fully manifest themselves, especially as we still have no clear picture of what the new normal will look like. After all, once the buoyance from pent-up demand and Christmas spending have subsided, the reality of the new normal will sink in. Then we will start to see the negative effects which have remained hidden come to the fore in 2021.

Is it any wonder then, many people are now running on empty whether that be emotionally, financially, or just worried out of their minds about their businesses, or their jobs, or saving their homes etc. In such a state, messages of “She will be right!” or “It will okay next year!” just don’t help.

It doesn’t help much either when our businesses receive so many contacts with yesterday’s messages of “how to succeed”, or exhorting them to sell better, go digital, borrow more because it is cheap, etc. When such messages are directed at tired and emotional businesspeople, they often only add to the existing worries and are ignored. The harsh reality is; many people switch off from these messages because they are just not interested, or just cannot see past their current circumstances at the moment.

I make no claims to being an expert on how to deal with those people who are now running on empty and just waiting for the end of 2020. As a businessperson who has survived OK despite everything, I too have had my moments of self-doubt and feeling less than enthusiastic about what to do next to grow my business.

Therefore, I can only advise what I have done or will continue to do during 2020 and 2021 in an attempt to turn my feelings around to be more positive. Here are a few suggestions which may help.

1          The first thing is; be kind to yourself and know it is okay to admit that you have some thoughts of negativity and acknowledge that you are not perfect and are allowed to have self-doubts from time to time. The secret is to allow time to work through these periods, being careful not to dwell for too long, otherwise you may exacerbate your problems.

2          If after allowing a short time to find a way out of your self-doubt and if still unable to manage, for goodness sake, seek HELP and talk to a friend or an appropriate professional specialising in emotional or financial matters.

3          The Australian government has made available cost-free services so it costs you nothing to ask for help. If you are afraid of there being some record of your need to call for help, most reputable organisations can explain how they can assist and leave no public record. The same goes if you need to talk to somebody about your financial problems.

There are many respected and professional insolvency firms where you can put forward your thoughts for consideration without any commitment to actually put your business into some form of insolvency administration.

In either of the above situations, just talking with these organisations can help.

4          It also helps to know you are not alone and there are many people worse off than you. Take the time to review your own situation and understand if things are really as bad as you think they are. At times, this acknowledgement is an assistance in helping you move forward to be more positive about your own situation.

5          There are other strategies to help businesspeople retain a sense of positiveness, or least to take their thoughts away from negativity at this time. Many of these strategies cost little money and are positive initiatives to grow and rebuild your business. The main point is that these initiatives help you to break the cycle of doom and gloom and negativity.

(a)        One of the first things to do is to rebuild your business’s database or records. Too often, in the rush to get everything done, we forget to maintain or keep our data and records in an up-to-date state. As we know, one of the worst ways to lose money is to raise invoices or supply goods and services based on outdated information.

(b)        Telephone all suppliers to find out how they are going and whether they have any new products or services.

(c)        Telephone customers, without the pressure of specifically seeking another sale.

You can then verify (i) whether the ownership and key personnel have changed and/or (ii) if their situation has changed and offer assistance, as appropriate, if required.

Perhaps you might just be surprised and make another sale.

6          Perhaps your work environment is untidy because you have been too busy to keep it tidy, or have lost interest in how the business appears. Alternatively, perhaps you need to cull some assets or products. Taking the time to clean up your work environment to make it look more professional, takes your mind away from other issues. Furthermore, a tidy workplace is often just the morale booster you need to reinvigorate yourself.

7          If all else fails, take the time this Christmas and New Year break to get away from the business and refresh your mind and outlook. A few days away from the business is a great way to refresh and reinvigorate yourself by looking at the world with a different mindset.

Another benefit, is that by not worrying so much, or working in the business, means answers to some of the issues which been worrying you become clear. It is amazing how when you are free from normal concerns, how answers to these problems come to you because you are not concentrating on them.

Often a short break from business also allows you to review what is important in your life, or find new business ideas.

In summary, 2020 has been a really difficult year for many people. As a result, many businesspeople are now running on empty, emotionally, financially, or just worried out of their minds about their businesses, or their jobs, or saving their homes etc.

I make no claims as to being an expert in how people may overcome all these problems. As a business person who has had his own ups and downs during this year. I have put forward a few suggestions which may be of help to you because they have helped me.

At the end of the day however, if you still have problems which you cannot seem to overcome, please seek appropriate professional help. It is amazing how often just talking through your problems with a trusted friend or professional can help.