Learning from business owners who lost everything

Photo source:  Tim Swaan

I’m sitting here nodding my head.  ‘Darn, people still don’t get it about business loss and the impact on mental health.’ There’s some dos and don’ts when working with business owners who have lost everything.

The belief perpetuated for many years is that those who have lost businesses (even bankrupts) – have nothing to offer.  The belief is they are failed people.

Let me tell you something. I’ve heard and seen some pretty rough stuff of late. It comes from business people with no understanding of business loss and the impact on mental health – and the way they relate (directly or indirectly) to business owners experiencing significant trauma.

Here is what that looks like:  advertisements – ‘pivot your business,’ pay $29 for a resource, ‘I have helped 100’s of businesses’ (says person who looks unsympathetic). There’s even an ‘organisation’ thrown in there who charged $1700 plus gst for two-day workshops – now trying to help people get across the line – using a different name.  (Their workshops before Covid-19 never worked – because the business advice was unsustainable).  I’ve even seen comments like ‘be positive,’ ‘aim high and never give up,’ ‘be resilient,’ Who are those messages directed at?  The ones who have lost everything, the vulnerable.

If you converse with someone who has experienced business loss and the impact on mental health, you won’t get anything like that. They will spend more time listening than talking. They have been through the effects of:  PTSD, Anxiety, Grief, brokenheartedness, and so much more.  They have experienced isolation, shame, blame, and everything else that comes with significant trauma. They have had to – start all over again. They have had to learn to be ‘resilient.’

People who have experienced business loss and the impact on mental health have a range of additional skills.  Production management, operations management, administration, staff recruitment, management, people management, health and safety, policy writing, customer service, b, book keeping, basic accounting, social media marketing, technical skills, numeracy skills, problem solving skills. In fact anything and everything to do with running a business.

People who have experienced business loss – can teach lessons they learned from their mistakes. But the biggest thing is, you won’t have to explain yourself to them – because they understand your situation.

2 Replies to “Learning from business owners who lost everything”

  1. As a bankrupt of an insolvent company, I know well the experiences and trauma you speak of.
    There is another layer of trauma, and that is you lose trust in people including the banks, government agencies, professionals, and creditors.
    Yes I have noticed many scam offerings promising all sorts “if you would just pay me $$ thousands, you can have the same wealth I do” which translates to “if you give me thousands, I promise that most of the content I am selling you can be found free on the internet, or at a tenth of the cost I am asking you to pay which means my margins are huge, thanks to you. And those lovely homes and beaches you see behind me in my sponsored ads, I don’t actually own or live there………”
    They have always been there but its not until you have experienced loss that you now see them for what they truly are.

    1. Yes, Lisa. ‘Drink this potion, it will make you a millionaire.’ ‘I know the struggle – here let me help you.’ (picture of someone with a smirk on their face). Detection of deception is used in law enforcement. In business we need to learn how to detect deception in marketing and advertising – by asking ourselves – ‘what’s right about this ad,’what isn’t right about this ad.’ In fact at school many years ago we were taught how to analyse advertisements. Trauma – significant trauma – it’s like someone losing both legs and then being told to stand up and walk. Trust. Over the years locally I have read articles about Business owners who have been ‘deceived’ – and paying the price – and warning people. Here is a saying about trust that I like: ‘There are two reasons people don’t trust someone – they don’t know them…they know them.’

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