Debt Problems

It’s been a busy few days. I left the Great Yorkshire Show on Friday morning and drove to Cirencester for the Cotswold Show, stopping at Nantwich on the way “past” to see the team and collect some more stock.

Over the past few weeks, I have shared some frank conversations with friends who are experiencing tough financial conditions. Their businesses are not making money and they are struggling to pay the bills. Money is getting tighter and tighter as they max their credit cards, and they are very fearful about the future.

I felt their pain deeply, having been through the same situation last year. We ran up debts of £100,000 as our show sales collapsed. Our show business almost overnight stopped making money, and we were left with a full calendar of events for 2018 with signed contracts that we couldn’t get out of. It was an incredibly stressful time and one that I feel fortunate to have survived.

Thankfully we are now back in a strong position making money and should be debt free again by the end of the year. I believe the reason we survived was that I had experienced a similar situation a decade before when my sandwich company went bust. The lessons I learnt through that failure gave me the mental strength to take the tough decisions that are required to save a business in crisis.

These lessons apply equally to personal finances as they do to business. So, if you are struggling with debts, you can’t pay or wondering how to pay your mortgage at the end of the month then read on. I have been there and know what it’s like to dread the phone ringing or the knock at the door knowing it could be a debt collector or the bailiffs.

A complete list of lessons and strategies I employed are too much for one blog post, but I would like to outline the most critical thing you can do to turn the situation around.

Stop digging and leave your pride and ego behind.

Let’s examine what each of these means in turn.

“Stop digging” means stop spending money on anything and everything that is not 100% essential. In my case that involved pulling out of more than 100 shows, laying staff off and paying for shows that we didn’t even trade. The risk of trading and losing more money at the event outweighed the long-term cost of paying for the stand.

“Leave your pride and ego behind” is one of the hardest things you will ever do. There is a massive stigma in our society regarding debt problems, and so we tend to hide it away. Keeping your debt problems a secret is a big mistake. The only way to move forward is to stop caring about what anybody else says or thinks and to make the tough decisions that are required.

Concentrate all your efforts on reducing your regular outgoings, examine every single expenditure and ask yourself if you need to spend this, maximise your income by working extra hours or a second job and then talk with the people you owe money too and agree on extended payment terms. Buy yourself time and finally don’t borrow more money to pay the old debts!

If you are staring down the barrel of a debt problem, I know how stressful and lonely it feels. I cannot fix the problem for you, but what I can tell you is that you can come through this situation. It will be hard. It will take time, and you will almost certainly have to give up many of the luxuries you have taken for granted in the past. But you can do it.

Share the problems with your family and friends, don’t keep secrets. Don’t keep spending to “keep up appearances”, this only makes your situation worse.

Face up to the problems. Draw a line in the sand and say to yourself that you are going to get through this. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Turn your face towards that light and walk towards it.

It has taken me twelve hard months to turn Valentte around and I believe that you can do the same for your situation. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

10 thoughts on “Debt Problems”

  1. I’m not in business but I agree with everything you’ve said about debt problems, it all makes perfect sense for life too. In fact all your blogs are very interesting reads.

  2. Hi Luke,
    I really enjoy your reading your emails first thing in the morning. So much rings true with myself and my situation and I find your snippets of wisdom both encouraging and inspiring.
    Keep up everything you’re doing and all my best wishes,

  3. Great blog, and this subject is a hard one to cover. I experience stress due to money worries and it is lonely place but great advice

  4. I have read your posts for a while now and not commented. I want to thank you for these posts and let you know that they are thought provoking and very easy to read. Please keep them coming I don’t know how you do it but, thank you.

  5. So good to read your blog posts and share your journey through life – so many comments resonate and particularly about taking part in shows – been there, done that and now show free after 25 years!

    Recently ordered a couple of items from Valentte and really pleased with them but thinking of your comments today it made me want to write about saving money. The two items were for myself – indulgent but why not! The packaging was indeed beautiful but how about offering an option at check out as to whether the item is a gift when certainly the packaging would be appropriate but otherwise you could use much less expensive and functional packaging. I know its all recyclable but it does seem such a shame to merely dispose of top quality packaging. Also I would totally expect to pay for postage on an order of under say £50. With a cut off figure you could probably encourage customers to buy that extra item to save postage. It’s so easy to give things away – there will always be a waiting hand and someone to take advantage as you found with your free samples. Sometimes you just have to put the plug in.

  6. I have been very impressed by the messages you share . I found your companies policy on women workers with hours that suit and working some evenings forward thinking “outside the box”
    What sensible advice about debt .
    My friends and I love your products which we bought at the country living Christmas show and online since . I hope your business goes from strength to strength .

  7. Hi Luke
    I just wanted to let you know how inspirational I find your messages and I simply wanted to thank you. I read each and every one and take a little bit from each.
    Keep it up…please!
    Best wishes to you


  8. Very inspiring! I always take time to read your comments. I believe that if you can take time in your busy life to write down your thoughts the least I can do is to read them. Many thanks

  9. Yes I also read through your comments, always thought provoking even if not relevant every time to my own circumstances… but your latest thoughts and advice regarding debt is right on the money, no pun intended.. I hope it strikes a chord with people in this situation as it can be a very lonely place where just a few words of support and understanding can make a huge difference .

  10. Hi Luke
    I look forward to your emails and find them very inspiring and helpful. I find it helps to write things down but stopped doing that and realise I need to start keeping my journal again.
    Thank you for all your blogs


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