You might be surprised to learn there is one

Whether it’s the original mediations of Marcus Aurelius, the last good Roman Emperor memorably played by Richard Harris in Gladiator, or his stoic contemporaries Seneca or Epictetus or even modern interpretations from the likes of Ryan Holliday.

Among the interesting and useful ideas and meditations modern stoics practice, one of the most prominent is Premeditatio Malorum – or negative visualisation. 

Most simply, the practice is imagining “what is the worst that could happen?” in your personal life or business, experiencing and dwelling on the feelings associated with it and planning what you would do if this comes to pass. 

The idea is that if it never happens, you’ll be relieved and encouraged that you can prepare and handle it and if it should ever happen, you will be mentally prepared for it and ready. 

It won’t mean much to the staff of companies like Wrightbus, Jack Wills, Bury FC and Thomas Cook who went into administration and/or liquidation in the three months that make up Q3 of the UK’s economic year (July, August and September), but a stoic would say that they’d have saved themselves a lot of unnecessary worry and negativity and been prepared for it when the time came. 

These companies were the headline makers among the 4,355 underlying company insolvencies in Q3 2019 which was up 0.4% on Q2 and up 1.6% on Q3 2018.  

The figure is the highest level of underlying insolvencies in any quarters since Q1 2014. 

Administrations have also climbed 20% since the previous quarter at 484 which is also the highest level since Q1 2014. The number of companies being liquidated remains low with one in 239 firms being liquidated in the previous 12 months, down slightly on one in 237 from Q2 2019. 

Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs) have also increased 2.3% on the last quarter at 3,115 are at their highest level since Q1 2012. This was still the most popular form of company insolvency in this period with 71.5% of cases – 15.3% were compulsory liquidations and 13.2% were other types. 

The construction industry is still the most exposed to company insolvencies with 3,106 this quarter while the accommodation and food services sector saw the largest quarterly increase with a 1.7% increase or 39 additional cases.


What’s the worst that could happen?

Duncan Swift, president of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, said: “The figures are further evidence that the economic and political turbulence of the last 12 months has taken its toll on business. 

“The increase in Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations suggests business rescue is more difficult to achieve in the current economic environment, perhaps reflecting greater uncertainty that purchasers can deliver sustainable business turnarounds. 

“For some businesses, restructuring through an insolvency procedure is the best means of dealing with stalled growth. Company directors who are concerned about their business or the market conditions it’s operating in should seek advice from a knowledgeable and qualified professional source (ahem)

“The earlier they do, the more options they have in terms of business rescue.”

We couldn’t agree more.  

Premeditating the worst case scenario for your business is one thing but letting it happen without seeking help is another. 

As Marcus Aurelius said: “Get active in your own rescue and do it while you can!”

You might not have the resources of the Roman Empire to draw on but you do have access to wise advisors who can help you actually plan your way out – us.