Handling the pressure of not being able to pay your debts

Handling the pressure of debt

Under Pressure

I guess a lot of people are finding themselves in a situation today where they just don’t have the funds to pay what they owe.

What do you do when you find yourself in this situation? – how do you deal with it, how do you cope, how do you handle those phone calls, how do you handle the pressure?

Unless you have been in the situation before do you know what to do or how you would react?

Will you avoid all calls and email requests, will you make promises you just can’t keep, will you tell lies about cheques that have been sent or will you take every call and be up front and honest with every single caller as to what the situation is and how you intend sorting it out?

Will you promise your creditor an update within a fixed time period and actually deliver this update?

When you are in this spot more than likely on one hand you are fighting for survival, for solutions while at the same time trying to deal with this mixture of creditors – angry, understanding, patient, worried all demanding their payments.

A number of years back I found myself in this spot – I was selling the business I was a joint partner of, I had my figures done, money in and money owed. The theory was perfect – I would have enough from the proceeds to comfortably settle all monies due and even have a good balance left over!! A fine reward for 12 years of hard work..

A few things went badly wrong (a landlord deliberately delaying the lease assignment for over a year was the main problem, which caused huge problems as we were operating month to month) and I found myself with a significant shortfall – the day I did my tally that awful, sick sinking feeling just took over my body and I broke into a cold sweat realising that I was in a financial hole.

When that awful sick feeling and sheer panic eventually subsided (this stayed with me for at least a week – a dark place to be) I had to start dealing with the situation.

The supplier phone calls ? I could tell you that I took every one as they came in but honestly I couldn’t handle them, I had enough on my plate trying to get my head right and deal with the situation and I just wasn’t able to cope with these calls at the same time. I had never actually dealt with the suppliers directly, which definitely made it easier.

When I started to calm down I made my plan. I asked my good friend and accountant Tom Sheehan of TA Sheehan & Co in Cork to help.

We figured out how much we could pay everyone and Tom took over the job of negotiating with each supplier. I corresponded with all suppliers by fax (I just wasn’t able for the phone calls) and passed on Tom’s details – he took it from there and successfully settled with all of them. The business had dealings with most of these suppliers for over 12 years so I reckoned that they had made plenty from me over the years – either way I could not pay them what I did not have.

This was a horrible time in my life and I’m sure it was quite unpleasant for those my business owed money to – most of these were big multinationals but some were small businesses and I am sure these were quite worried at the time.

Was I honourable? I guess I was in the end but I do know how difficult it was to deal with those calls – for a while I did hide and I did need help to deal with the situation.

My advice for anyone in this tight spot – do what you can but don’t hide, if you need help then ask for it. Stay honourable ..

PS: Thank you Tom – the help you gave me at this time I’ll never forget and it kept me sane!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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3 Responses to “Handling the pressure of not being able to pay your debts”

  1. alancarroll Says:

    Your honesty and wisdom are at times breathtaking, lots of food for though to ponder over for any struggling business. You often say what others only think, this is what makes you different.
    Talk soon.

  2. Peter Fry Says:

    I’m outta help!

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