Lifeline for struggling business owners

Haylee Wrenn has seen it all – from business owners who can’t understand why they are making a loss, to those who don’t realise they are making a profit. Some businesses are structured inefficiently, while others are too lean.

Every week she speaks with someone whose mental health is severely affected by their business position. In a worst-case situation, Haylee has been called in to help a business in peril, only to find her client just lost his desperate business partner to suicide.

The award-winning accountant says seeing too many anxious, stressed and burnt-out clients giving up on their businesses during Covid-19 made her decide she needed to be part of the solution, developing an affordable online programme called Business 180.

“Far too often, I’ve watched accountancy fail small businesses,” the former IRD debt collector explains. “Doing tax returns is one thing, but nobody teaches you how to go into business and do it well, providing essential, practical information to help people really look after themselves. I couldn’t find anything else in the market to capture business owners when they’re in a dark place, especially in such challenging times.”

The programme delivers a helping hand to anyone needing financial management, work-life balance and mental health support tools.

Haylee, who was crowned New Zealand Bookkeeper of the Year 2020 and won the NZ Bookkeeping Partner of the Year at the Xero Awards in 2021, says it is designed to assist businesses under immediate threat, covering topics such as assessing business health, company viability, as well as exploring exactly what happens when a business is liquidated or bankrupted.

“Importantly, it outlines what mechanisms are in place to support people’s mental wellbeing,” she adds, and also offers professional psychotherapy guidance around managing stress and encouraging business owners to prioritise themselves and their wellbeing.

“Many of my clients struggle with mental health, which has a knock-on impact on their physical health such as high blood pressure,” says Haylee. “In the most severe and heart-breaking cases, I’ve seen stress-related suicide, while others have lost their livelihood due to stress-induced illnesses, impacting their children and eventually ending their marriage.

“While there are many factors that contribute to such a desperate scenario, I am committed to ensuring that business owners can receive mental health support.

That is why Business 180 partners with a psychotherapist to deal with this important area. It’s about getting business owners back on track.”

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