The avoidance of danger and the preservation of self is hardwired into all of us. Instinctually, to an extent: we understand sharp teeth and claws mean: “run” and that fire is hot. Too hot.
What isn’t an immediately obvious danger to our well being alerts us in different ways: rotten food tastes and smells bad as ingesting it will poison us, so we aren’t tempted to eat it no matter how hungry we are. That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you look down from a high place tells you it’s unlikely you’ll survive if you jump.
The other stuff is drilled into us as children: Stop, Look and Listen (before crossing the road), Stranger Danger and everything else that could be easily conveyed with a tagline. Danger and pain are to be avoided at all costs – and identifying the danger before it becomes immediate means you have identified the risk. You know that a speeding car is a risk when crossing the road, so you take the necessary precautions: you stop, you look and you listen.
So why is it that when you ask the average business owner: “what is the biggest risk to your business right now?” you are so frequently met with a blank stare?
Well, the danger isn’t immediately apparent. There’s nothing visible to suggest danger is coming. The leads and sales are coming in, as is revenue… so what’s the problem? No sharp teeth, no bad smells, no fire.
This is the perfect time to ask yourself the first question you need to be asking yourself when looking at maximising your business results:
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘What is the biggest risk to your business, right now?”” quote=”‘What is the biggest risk to my business, right now?””]
There may be one major thing, or several small things. But the most crucial thing is to identify them all, no matter how unlikely or fantastical. Stranger things have (and in our experience will) happen, and once they’ve happened they’ll be harder to fix than if they’ve been identified and prepared for… or even prevented.
Risks can come in many shapes and sizes. They could be relatively easy fixes like “not enough clients” or “too much work, not enough time”, or they could be a little more complex: “a direct competitor is poaching my clients” or “my employees aren’t trustworthy”.
Every problem has a solution. In fact, every problem has a magnitude of solutions. The more options you have, the more likely it is that problem will be solved. The tricky part is identifying the risks and dealing with them before they develop into problems. You just have to ask the right questions to get to the right issues to tackle. Once you know your risks, you have clarity.
Therein lies the rub: to identify the risks, you have to take a step back. A big step back. You have to get your head out of the day-to-day running of the business and look at it completely subjectively. It’s a bit like looking at the numbers… but it’s much much harder than that. The numbers are cold hard facts, whereas risks are a smorgasbord of ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’, which don’t sit too well with the average business owner. Not only that, but it’s a pretty depressing exercise. A positive attitude is essential to sanity in business, so being deliberately negative about it is pretty jarring.
And yet, if you’re left completely flummoxed when…
- Your business partner breaks away and starts up a competing company
- The CRM system upon which your entire business is running goes down
- You fall seriously ill and the business can’t run without your direct input
- Your relationship with one of your greatest allies goes bad
- A key employee leaves suddenly
… then your positive attitude won’t get you very far in dealing with the fallout. All of the stuff above (and then some) is a potential business-killer, and not identifying the risk means that you haven’t identified the ways in which you will deal with the problem when it happens. You will be in shark infested water… without your shark repellent. And you didn’t even hear the pier boards cracking beneath your feet.
Take a step back, put your sceptic’s hat on, and take a good hard look at your business. What’s the biggest risk to you and your company right, and what will you do (right now) to ensure you recover quickly… or even prevent it from happening altogether.
In the business world, the more options you have the better, and the sooner you have them the better. Make yourself bulletproof… by investing in body armour.