Handling your emotions during financial problems

Your turnover might have fallen in recent months. Perhaps you had to temporarily close your business, or decided to keep the doors closed yourself. Such events can make you feel powerless. You might feel ashamed, or your pride might get in the way. Above all, you might just feel incredibly frustrated. How do you handle these common emotions?

These emotions are often linked to certain beliefs, says Lea Donselaar van Koers, business psychologist at Koers. Together with Hans Litjens, Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK advisor for businesses in trouble, and wedding florist Claire van der Velden, she shares useful tips. Read about what you can do and who can help you with the 3 most common emotions in times of crisis: powerlessness, shame, and frustration.


Due to uncertainty and lack of clarity about financial matters and the continuation of the business, entrepreneurs become distraught and confused. In that situation, emotions quickly gain the upper hand, making objective decisions difficult. How do you prevent this?

Create clarity

If you are feeling down and stressed, it is difficult to look at your financial situation objectively. It may seem hopeless. The independent, fresh perspective of others helps to create insight into your current business situation. KVK advisor Litjens: “Without financial insight it is impossible to know which steps to take. That causes confusion and a feeling of powerlessness. Discuss your money worries with family, friends, other entrepreneurs, your bookkeeper, or accountant.”

Be honest with yourself

Do you find it difficult to be honest and transparent with yourself about the situation you are in? Accepting the situation helps you move forward and offers new choices and possibilities. Litjens: “When you are honest with yourself, you can take steps. Don't hold on to how the situation was, out of guilt or loyalty to your company or the employees. I see entrepreneurs who stay on their old track, while for some cases I wonder whether that is the right way to go. By clinging on to how your company was before the corona crisis, you sometimes no longer see the bigger picture. And then you can easily make wrong choices.”


If the current corona measures have an effect on your business operations and its implementation, it can cause great frustration. This is what Van der Velden experiences, who had to change her annual and daily schedule for her wedding planning services several times due to the measures. Van der Velden: “All those changes were very annoying, not only for me, but also for my customers. You lose more time because of all the extra contact hours and adjusting the setup for the flower arrangements.”

Enjoy what you can

Try to keep busy and find a distraction. Think about what gives you energy and what you like to do. Many activities cost little or no money, such as going to the park with your friends, reading a book, and working in the garden or around the house. Van der Velden explains her tips: ”When I need to relax, I get creative. I think in solutions instead of problems and see creativity as an outlet. ‘Enjoy what you can and ignore the rest’ is my motto. That's how I started with bouquets made to order for the home. And if the frustration really mounts, I go for a run.”

For Van der Velden, relaxation also means working on her business. She turns her frustration into something positive. “Sitting still is not for me and as an entrepreneur my mind never stops. I always think about how to keep my head above water and look for improvements for my online presence. Or I'm preparing for the next season. This way, you can adapt to situations quickly and take steps when that is possible again.”

Take care of yourself

You hear it everywhere, but how do you do that: dealing with stress and taking good care of yourself. The World Health Organisation has prepared a few tips, in response to the corona virus. Their stress management handbook states, among other things:

  • Do not escape into alcohol or other drugs.
  • Stay in shape by exercising and eating healthy.
  • Prevent social isolation by maintaining a normal rhythm.

    Keep in touch with friends and family, because these social contacts often provide new energy and insights.

During this period, Van der Velden has been talking with entrepreneurs more than before. “We support each other and come up with new ideas. It's very quiet in our industry right now, so there's plenty of time for that. I don't find it difficult to visit them and talk about my situation. We are all in the same situation together. By being vulnerable towards another entrepreneur, you create a bond and trust towards each other.”

Shame and fear of failure

If you are dealing with financial problems, you may be blaming yourself and feeling ashamed or guilty. Are you ashamed of the situation? Do you fear getting a bad reputation or are you feeling guilty towards yourself, your loved ones, or your employees? Here is what you can do:

Set goals more realistically

Shame and fear of failure have to do with certain beliefs, says Donselaar. “It is normal for entrepreneurs to work with targets, such as an increase in turnover or growth. When you do not achieve these goals, you may feel like you are failing. It helps to check which targets and goals you set. Then check whether they are realistic. If you fail to achieve certain goals, have you set the bar too high or have you actually failed? We see that it is usually the first case. If you realise that, you will avoid disappointments and feelings of failure.”

Focus on successes

As an entrepreneur, you have achieved many successes, partly because of your capacities and skills. Do not focus on the financial situation of your company but look at what you have achieved. Litjens: “Due to the corona crisis, you feel pressure to save the company, which is why the focus is shifting there. Don't be ashamed of your situation and realise what added value you have as an entrepreneur. Look at the successes you have achieved and realise that your skills will continue to help you now. Even if you are forced into a different business form or company.”

Seeking help for psychological problems can be difficult, says Donselaar. "For example, because of the belief that you should be able to do it yourself and that you should not be weak. Try to put these feelings aside and realise that this does not have to be the truth. You do not have to take these thoughts seriously."

Have faith in yourself

You are the most valuable asset of your company. Without you, your business would never have existed. Loss of turnover and financial problems do not make you a bad entrepreneur. Litjens continues: “Have confidence in your own abilities. Insight helps you to take the reins into your own hands, increasing certainty and confidence. Think carefully about difficult issues, do not get impulsive, but do dare to make decisions. That way you stay in the driver's seat, creating peace of mind.”

Do not be held back by feelings of shame or guilt, adds Donselaar. "And don't focus on that. We often see that these feelings perpetuate a problem. It's good to allow these feelings, but don't run away from the situation. It is important to carry on without letting the circumstances determine everything you do."

Share your concerns

Money worries can make you feel anxious, sad, powerless, insecure, irritable, or angry. Money worries can paralyse you. Realise that problems do not go away on their own and talk about them with someone close to you. Seek help together, and not only for the business part, but also for the psychological consequences. For example, talk to 2 or 3 people in your surroundings that you trust or to your doctor. Your family doctor can refer you to a psychologist.

Tackle psychological complaints

Do you experience psychological complaints, such as poor sleep, worry, or feeling down because of your financial problems? Do you want to discuss these confidentially? Various professional organisations offer a listening ear.

Help with your business

If you are looking for advice and help for your business, contact the following organisations:

  • KVK Advisory Team
    The KVK Advisory Team listens and gives appropriate advice. If necessary, they refer you to other organisations. Telephone 0800 21 17 on weekdays between 08:30 and 17:00.
  • Entrepreneurs sounding board
    Former entrepreneurs, managers and specialists with a specific field of expertise join forces in the Entrepreneurs Sounding Board. Telephone 070 349 0600 on weekdays between 08:30 and 16:30.
  • Your municipality
    Your debts are mounting and you see no way out. Debt restructuring may be a solution for you. If you have financial problems and are looking for help, contact the municipality where you live. They will work with you to make a plan that can get you out of trouble. Municipalities have a legal duty to help entrepreneurs with debts. Sometimes they outsource this to an external debt assistance organisation. No (additional) costs are attached to help via the municipality. They also support you with schemes that may offer you relief, such as an amicable settlement* or debt restructuring. Call, email or visit the municipality where you live, and tell them you are looking for debt assistance.