I’m struggling with COVID-19. If you are too, you’re not alone! Let’s do this together
I haven’t really formally introduced myself yet. If this is your first time reading my blog, then welcome!
My name is Amanda Oling. I’m a motivational speaker, impaired driving prevention speaker and I also own a DJ company that specializes in weddings, fundraisers, gala’s and Christmas parties. Prior to COVID-19, my DJ business had roughly 60 weddings booked and my speaking business had a full tour schedule from April to June. Things were looking bright and I was looking forward to having a record level of income. I had just purchased the DJ business in April 2019 and still owed a lot on the loan for the company but it was looking like there would be enough revenue to pay that off. I was excited.
A contractor that I got an LED dance floor from for events all of a sudden sold that dance floor without letting me know even though it was booked and he had promised to fulfill those bookings. Now he told me the place he sold it to wouldn’t rent it out for those events. Being resourceful myself, I researched where to get one of my own and sunk a bunch of money into ordering one from China. I figured it wouldn’t be a problem because of the projected revenue to come in from my businesses. The money had to be wired ahead of time before they started building the dance floor in the factory. So the money was sent. Things were looking good for 2020 and I kept saying “this will be my year!”
Then COVID-19 hit. In March, just a few days before a large event, everything got shut down in Alberta. No events, no weddings, nothing. I spent the next 4 hours that night answering e-mails and phone calls. Over the next week, I can only describe it as a full nightmare. All my conferences and speaking engagements for my speaking business were cancelled. Out of the 60 weddings that I had booked for the DJ business, 30 of them cancelled. The rest postponed to 2021. I was now looking at an empty 2021 schedule and no income for the foreseeable future.
I managed to get a small bank loan, but would have to start making payments within the next 30 days which meant I would be giving half the loan back in payments alone.
There was a glimmer of hope this summer when small events could take place. However, only 5 of my scheduled weddings took place. I was thankful for those 5 weddings as it meant I could bring some staff back to help them financially and have some sort of an income for one month. But it was a far cry from the income I should have brought in.
Things were looking a bit brighter as winter was approaching. Christmas Party season is my other big revenue generator. I had two Christmas Parties booked and one event. I was grateful for those events, even though it was a lot less than usual, but it was comforting knowing there would be enough income to get me through at least a couple more months.
Then the unthinkable happened. Last night (Friday, November 6, 2020), the Province of Alberta announced that due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, all events over 15 people had to be cancelled unless they were seated events. That meant that glimmer of hope for November and December just disappeared as my clients began to cancel.
Both my Federal Canadian Government (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) and my Provincial Government (Premier Jason Kenney) have failed me. They have bailed out the big corporations. My Provincial Government even bailed out the horse racing industry of all things, but no funding or programs or loans for event based companies. In order to get any Federal assistance, a small business needs to prove over $40,000 in non-deferrable expenses. I applied, but got declined because my office is in my home. I can use part of my home expenses (mortgage, utilities, taxes) as expenses on my taxes, but because my home is not in my business name, the government won’t accept those expenses as business expenses and therefore declined my application. Doesn’t make sense at all to me. I’m some of you are feeling the same way and experiencing the same frustrations you are not alone. I feel your pain. I’m there with you.
I felt absolutely hopeless last night and this morning. I think I’ve cried enough tears to fill a river and have gone through at least one box of tissues. I’ve barely slept.
During the announcement of further restrictions last night, Premier Jason Kenney said he refused to shut down restaurants because he didn’t want to affect the livelihoods of Albertans because many restaurant owners have put all their life savings into their businesses to barely keep them open and that they employ people. Ummm…. Mr. Kenny — what about me? You’ve kept my business shut down since March! I employ people too — seven people to be exact! What about them? You have negatively affected my livelihood but don’t care about me or my industry. But unfortunately no one lobbies the government for businesses like mine. There’s outrage if restaurants are closed, but everyone is quiet about the motivational speakers and the DJ’s of the world. No one cares about us… not enough to help anyway.
I can’t even collect the new personal CRB benefit the Government of Canada rolled out to help people because your 2019 taxes have to be done and filed. I can’t afford the cost to get my business taxes done at a price of $3000 for the accountants as my year end wasn’t until March 31, after the COVID-19 shut down. I can’t file my personal taxes until my business taxes are done. So I’m left out a dark cold place on my own.
For any of you in the same boat, I feel your pain. I’m here with you. I know what you are going through and how you suffer.
I’m going through the grief cycle. Last night and this morning, it was the shock and the sadness. This afternoon it’s the anger and it’s forcing me to refocus and fight. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
I need to take my businesses online virtually. I am not a tech savvy person and learning the software is taking a lot of time and energy. But I’ve decided to pour into it anyway. I only have a short time to save my businesses.
I’ve had to refocus and believe in myself, that I can do this, that I can save my businesses. I have to stay positive and keep trying. I need to seek out resources. I can either sit down and keep crying in a corner, or I can stand up and try my best to save my businesses. After all, the most successful people in the world didn’t have the resources. They were just resourceful.
I need to get out of my head and get rid of that self talk that keeps telling me I can’t do this. Will it be tough and take a lot of time to learn everything? Yes. But I have to commit. I can’t dabble. I need to just get over the crap in my head and just do the work. After all business is 80% psychology and 20% skill. I also can’t allow myself to compare myself to others who are ahead of me. I need to only focus on my progress.
While at first I was mad at God for this, I’m now seeing that God sends us these obstacles to push us to become who He wants us and needs us to become. Maybe this is my time to take my speaking business online and reach more people. Maybe God does have something bigger and better for me. I won’t know if I don’t try.
So if you are in the same boat, or even if you’re not and just interested on where I will go the next few weeks and months, keep following me on this journey. I look forward to seeing what I can achieve and having people to celebrate my successes with and to cry with when I fail. Will you be my tribe? I will post updates on my business speaking page at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaOlingMotivationalSpeaker
Just please no spam or trolls or negativity.
I have one message to leave you all with that I discovered this afternoon — No matter where you are, there’s always hope. That’s what I’m hanging onto right now… hope. Will you join me?
Amanda Oling is a motivational and impaired driving prevention speaker in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. Her book “The Impact of One Decision” is available on-line through Chapters, Coles & Indigo Bookstores, Amazon and Kindle. You can find out more about Amanda, purchase her book or send her a request to speak at your event or in your community through her website at www.AmandaOling.com. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaOlingMotivationalSpeaker, Instagram @impact_of_one_decision, Twitter @impact_of_one and on Linked In by searching Amanda Oling.