The Most Dangerous Things for Businesses

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article | The Most Dangerous Things for Businesses | Business RiskIf you are in control of a business, no matter how large or how small it is, you likely have problems that keep you up at night. There will always be inherent risks to any business-owner, which typically runs proportionally to rewards; everybody knows that entrepreneurs take big risks by not being employees, but they do so because they anticipate a payoff. In business, you should be looking for ways to minimize inherent risk at every opportunity. Here are some of the most dangerous things for businesses.

Non-Paying Customers

The world of commerce is relatively simple: a customer buys a product by giving you money and leaves with a product in a simple exchange. Unfortunately, this is not how most business operates. Many business transactions involve large sums of money, and as a result, customers become more likely to complete a transaction over several payments instead of one lump sum.

Not everybody pays on time, however, and this isn’t an unusual encounter in the business world. However, problems arise when non-paying customers build up or when customers try to avoid paying altogether, as Donald Trump’s power asymmetry negotiation style is famous for. This can have a major impact on cash flow, which can decimate most businesses. When activist investors take over a company, one of the first things they do is call in any remaining debts to the company with the help of a good legal team.


A wise man once said that the rich should fear two things: gambling and fire. Fire has the potential to destroy any business, even one which isn’t physical — a fire in a server room can wipe out an entire online enterprise if the servers do not have backups. A glance at a list of businesses that were destroyed during a town’s fire in Tennessee in 2016 would send shivers down a small-business owner’s spine. Fires are impossible to completely prevent, but with regular fire protection inspections and, of course, good preventative measures like working carbon monoxide detectors can mitigate the risk massively.

Legal Action

A lawsuit can be an exceptionally damaging thing for a company to deal with, especially if the business is small. In America, lawsuits have become a very common part of dealing with competition, especially when a larger company is fending off a smaller competitor. In these business skirmishes, whoever is willing to spend the most money can often bankrupt their competitor, causing many small companies to pay special warning to cease and desists from larger businesses.

Legal action can also be completely justified if you have, through negligence, committed a fault that can put an employee or customer in harm’s way. This is especially dangerous for companies that do not have a good vetting process for their managerial employees, as a bad mistake from a managerial representative of a small business could cause a lawsuit that could bankrupt the business completely.

Preventative measures hence become incredibly important. They ensure that all employees and business operations adhere strictly to legal guidelines; also, health and safety procedures can be the difference between a healthy, long-lasting business and a business with good prospects that made a mistake and went bust.

How to Limit Personal Risk When Starting a Business

You’ve got to be pretty brave to start a company. The failure rate is pretty high, it’s a lot of hard work, and, if it goes wrong, you might find that you’re in a difficult position. However, it’s probably not fair that people are punished for trying something and failing — the hit to their pride will be hard enough, must they really suffer in other ways too? We think not. There are ways that you can limit your risk when it comes to running a business. We take a look at a few ways how below. Incorporate them into your business strategies, and you’ll find there’s a reduced chance of your business having a negative impact on your life.

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article | How to Limit Personal Risk When Starting a Business | EntrepreneurshipDo Your Research

It all begins with your initial research. You could save yourself a lot of potential heartache and trouble by simply ensuring that what you’re trying to establish is, indeed, a good idea. Too many companies begin trading before figuring out whether there’s a demand for their products or services, who the competition is, and so on. If all the evidence suggests that it’s not a great idea, you should pull the plug.

The Right Set Up

It’s recommended that you limit the legal risk that you could face if your company isn’t as successful as hoped. You can do this by having the right set up for your company. As a business owner, an LLC offers the highest level of protection. Your business debts will stay tied to the business, rather than to your name. Similarly, if there’s an issue of negligence, then your assets could be at risk, even if you were only indirectly involved. It’s much better to set up as an LLC, rather than a sole proprietorship, with which your company’s debts would also be yours.

Stringent Quality Checks

Of course, while you can protect yourself financially and legally, there’s no hiding when it comes to your reputation. If your company is involved in an accident that was verifiably your fault, then it won’t just be your business that it affects – your name will be affected, too. As such, it’s imperative that you’re conducting stringent quality checks to ensure that everything is safe and high-quality. It’s when corners are cut and checks are not carried out when troubles can arise.

Legal Matters

You might think that everything is going smoothly for your business, only to discover that you’re in trouble with the authorities. Why? Because you were lax when it came to your company’s legal matters. Because of the threat that unlawful practices can bring, it’s recommended that you outsource the jobs to a law firm. They’ll make sure that everything is watertight.

Keep Things Separate

Finally, for your own sake, ensure that you’re keeping your business and personal finances separate. There are plenty of advantages to this, but one of the most important is that it makes it much easier to manage your money, and to ensure that you’re not screwed should your business flop.

3 Things All Business Owners Need to Know About Risk-Taking

As pivotal as it is to be systematic and strategic with everything that you do in business, you also have to be open to a spot of risk-taking from time to time. To ready yourself for when that time comes for you, you need to know a few very important things.

Here’s are three things that you, as a business owner, need to know about the taking of risks:

1. It’s okay to predict disaster as it’s only natural

A business owner you might be, but you’re still a human being. As a human, you are naturally and inherently biased towards the predicting of disaster. For this reason, every time you seek to take a risk, there will probably be a voice in your head telling you not to take it because everything is bound to go wrong.

First of all, you have to accept that this is your inherent bias and that you’re always going to be fearful — it’s okay to be like this, it’s just who you are. Second of all, you have to do all you can not to let your fears guide you or push you towards making decisions. Of course, if the bad does, quite clearly, outweigh the good in regards to the risks you seek to take (after you’ve taken some time to look at them subjectively), then, yes, steer clear of them. Never, however, let your natural desire to predict everything going wrong guide your risk-taking actions.

2. When it comes to taking a risk, align yourself alongside experts

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help at any point in your career, as two or more heads are always better than one. This sentiment rings especially loud and true when it comes to risk-taking, though.

Simply, whenever you enter into a field you’re not wholly sure about, before you take any kind of risk within it, you should seek to align yourself with an industry expert. By doing so, you will be able to tap into their expert knowledge and use it provide you with a better understanding of where, when, what, and how to take your risk. An example of this is you getting in touch with a high leverage broker before you seek to invest in the foreign exchange (Forex) market — by doing so, you’d learn about what it takes to trade in high volumes as well as how to perform investment risk calculations.

3. The ability to take a risk will help you to stand out

As not a lot of people in business are willing to take a risk, by doing so yourself, you will make yourself stand out. For better or worse, your ability to put caution to the wind will act as a differentiator between you and your competitors. For customers that like that kind of thing, that’ll put you at the forefront of their mind. Subsequently, this will bye you a one-way ticket to the front of your market.

If you feel like your business is stuck in a bit of a rut, why not try something new? More to the point, why not take a bit of a risk?

Why have a Risk Management Program?

Most people think of risk management as an insurance policy, the price paid to help prevent potentially negative outcomes from being realized by their company. Such a view leads to the conclusion that risk management is a business expense with a highly subjective value proposition.

We at StrategyDriven would suggest the insurance view of risk management is far too narrow. Instead, effective risk management enables a company to accelerate its business operations and to become more aggressive in the marketplace; approaches that in today’s fast paced environment is immeasurably valuable.

An analogy we use is that instead of correlating risk management to an insurance policy, leaders should think of it in terms of a high performance automotive breaking system. High performance breaks, such as those on racing cars, enable the driver to reach higher rates of speed while still maintaining the same level of safety as slower drivers whose cars have less capable breaking systems.

In the case of an effective risk management program, earlier warning of potentially adverse events occurs such that less costly adjustments can be made to avoid those risks; allowing the organization to speed its decisions and actions while maintaining the same risk profile as a company employing a less effective risk management program. Thus, an effective risk management system serves as both an insurance policy and a performance enhancer.

About the Author

Nathan Ives, StrategyDriven Principal is a StrategyDriven Principal, and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast. For over twenty years, he has served as trusted advisor to executives and managers at dozens of Fortune 500 and smaller companies in the areas of management effectiveness, organizational development, and process improvement. To read Nathan’s complete biography, click here.

Risk Management Warning Flag 2 – Normalcy Bias

StrategyDriven Risk Management Warning Flag ArticleIt can’t happen here…”

Sinclair Lewis (1885 – 1951)
American Novelist and Playwright
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1930)

…but what if it could?

Failing to adequately prepare for adverse events places an organization at significant risk. Indeed, such shortcomings have contributed to the fall of nations, demise of companies, and severe injury and death of countless people. Yet despite all of the evidence, many organizations today remain unprepared to deal with catastrophic events.

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About the Author

Nathan Ives, StrategyDriven Principal is a StrategyDriven Principal and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast. For over twenty years, he has served as trusted advisor to executives and managers at dozens of Fortune 500 and smaller companies in the areas of management effectiveness, organizational development, and process improvement. To read Nathan’s complete biography, click here.