Hi Aunty B,
This year I left my job to come and work for my father and his business. When I started I could never understand how we couldn’t afford to pay our bills.
After all, I was receiving all of the remittance advice from our customers and applying all payments as they came in so I knew exactly what was coming in.
Finally, after a month or so of begging he gave me access to his bank accounts and I burst into tears. I was absolutely shocked at the amount of debt. I can clearly see what is owed to us and what we owe and frankly I don’t know how we will ever get ahead.
We are constantly being put on stop-credit from our biggest suppliers. I have tried everything to persuade my dad to tighten his belt and stop withdrawing cash from the ATM, stop spending money on things we don’t need and sell some of our assets but he just won’t do any of it.
He has had the same accountant for years and I can’t afford to spend the kind of money it would take to get someone new in here to overhaul our accounting systems. I desperately want to go and find another job but it’s family. I know running away and burying my head in the sand would be exactly what he’s been doing for years but I just don’t have the experience to undo 20 years of avoiding his responsibilities.
Right now, borrowing any more money is just not an option and thank God for that or the debt would be even bigger! What should I do?
Desperately Seeking Sanity
Dear Desperately Seeking Sanity,
You poor thing. It’s awful when you’ve got a business owner who has put their head in the sand. I couldn’t imagine how awful it would be when that business owner is your own father.
But I don’t think you’re going anywhere – you sound like you’re too much of a dutiful child to do that. So here’s what you must do.
Firstly, stop thinking that you don’t have the experience to turn this ship around. It sounds to me like you know exactly what you need to do.
Secondly, prepare a report on the situation that the business is in. Make some predictions about the future of the business. Put the phrase “in danger of insolvent trading” in there.
Thirdly, sit your father down and take him through the report. Explain that if he does not get help from an accountant or turnaround specialist the business will collapse.
Show him how fast it could happen. Show him how he needs to change his spending habits. Show him the assets that need to be sold.
Finally, deliver an ultimatum: Either he gets his head out of the sand, lets you get help and makes changes or you’re leaving.
Put the ball in his court – you sound like a smart cookie, so I know which way I would jump if I was in your shoes.
Your Aunty B
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