Oh dear. It's been weeks. Weeks. A very serious case of Blog Neglect. I am sorry.
(Hanging head in shame)
There have been several reasons for the abandonment:
1. Christmas (well, a few days off in December is fair enough)
2. I was on holiday - my lovely boyfriend took me away for a week in the sun over the New Year
3. An extended period of financial worry
And it is of course number three that has been the main culprit.
Back to early January...
I returned from holiday vaguely aware that my finances were a bit of a shambles and that the whole tax return thing was looming, but I honestly had no idea how bad things were. Having had a few 'terse words' with Mike on holiday about the state of my finances, I arrived home determined to Sort Things Out, and, having landed late on the Friday night, by the Saturday lunchtime I was immersed in sales reports, till receipts and invoices. But the more I looked, the worse it became.
I won't go into the details here - more through embarrassment than matters of financial confidentiality - but the weeks which followed were among the most frightening of my life, the essence of things being that a) I am broke and b) I owe an awful lot of money.
It's very frightening to be a small business owner during such times. Okay, I have my lovely mother to help me in the shop (and she is absolutely wonderful!) but, when it comes to the serious stuff like paying bills and tax returns, I am, essentially, on my own. And it is this sense of isolation and not knowing where to turn for help that has really floored me over the past few weeks. In fact, every time I did consult a 'professional' for advice, I came away feeling more confused and alarmed than I did before I spoke to them!
However, there is a (sort of) happy ending to this story... After weeks of trying hard not to face my (very scary) financial responsibilities, I finally concluded that the only way forward was to a) spend hours and hours (and hours and hours) catching up on all the paperwork and figures that I really should have been doing for the past two years, and then b) declare everything to the relevant authorities.
And do you know, it has been strangely liberating to do so. For over a month now I have been diligently working away at figures while my mother has handled the shop. And whilst at times I could have cried with frustration (and indeed have done - just ask my boyfriend and parents!) it has, on the whole, been quite a cathartic experience.
As things stand - as of today - I am completely up to date in financial matters - so much so that I feel 'free enough' to write this entry tonight. Don't misunderstand me, I have a long way to go to dig myself out of The Hole (and, let's face it, it's not exactly a very hospitable climate in which to be facing financial difficulties) but I feel absolutely certain that everything is going to be okay. I love Cottontails, I love my job, and I am going to do absolutely everything I can to manage and develop a successful business throughout the rest of 2009.
So that is my update. I am really sorry again that it has been so long coming, but believe me, you wouldn't have wanted to be party to what has been going though my head over the past six weeks!
ps Thank you to all the people who sent lovely messages when I disappeared, and I promise - promise! - I won't do it again.
pps Hope you like the photo - it is a Maileg bunny holding my VAT paperwork (note the late payment penalty!)