By Brian McKay
No business is risk-free. The sooner you learn that, the better. Even if you have the greatest value proposition ready for a market that is completely without competitors and an audience clamoring for your products, you can mess it up. There are vulnerabilities within every business and they’re not going to get spotted unless you take the time for some introspection or you let them become a real issue. This article is about ensuring the latter doesn’t happen.
One of the risks that just about every business is susceptible to is the mismanagement of finances. When we hear of mismanagement, it’s easy to think that it just means spending money on the wrong things and getting priorities wrong. However, more often it’s about failing to properly track said finances, to apply them to cash flow projections and thus get an idea when expenditures are getting higher than they should be. With some recognition of how the business’s finances are, it’s much easier to steer them from going too far into dangerous territory.
If there’s another thing far too often mismanaged, it’s the staff you employ. You might consider your treatment of them ethical, but that doesn’t always mean its compliant with the law. Don’t leave aspects of office health and safety and HR up to rule of thumb. Make sure you take the time to craft effective policies and see them practised within the business as standard.
Besides the internal risks of failing to address certain business needs seriously, there are also external risks to the business. For one, every business is a target of crime. If you have investments in your premises worth protecting, then you want to look at the kind of advice offered by groups like a security company. People looking for an opportunity will assume, often rightly, that you have expensive equipment or resources in your premises worth stealing. The right mix of deterrence and protection is essential if you don’t want them getting their hands on your investments.
Modern crime isn’t all about what happens in the real world, either. We all know now that virtual world brings with it as much of a threat. If you run a network that contains information vital to the business, you want to secure that network. Especially if you have the responsibility of protecting customer financial details. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in any network. That’s why you need hackers on your side. Ethical hackers find those potential exploits but for the express purposes of helping you plug them up.
Whether it’s from your practices, from dissatisfied customers, competitors and even ex-employees, there are potential risks to your reputation from every angle. Besides doing what you can to ensure employees and customers are respected and treated well, you need to look at reputation management. From ensuring that your brand is protected from copycat businesses who would infringe on intellectual property to ensuring that incorrect and out-of-date information is not spread on the internet. Without protecting your reputation, your branding can never be effective.
Besides the tips above, we’ve hopefully demonstrated the importance of thinking more about risks to the business, both internally and externally. The more thought you put into risk and protecting yourself from it, the more peace-of-mind you have to actually run the business.