By Jerry Mooney

Are you a business owner, or an ambitious entrepreneur preparing to test the waters of the corporate world? If so, it’s always beneficial to be wary of the risks involved. Business is never plain sailing. There are metaphorical sharks in the water and obstacles to overcome around every corner. Here are some of the most potent threats to your business, and some tips to combat them.

 

 

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Your team

Most employers consider their team their most valuable weapon. However, the people who work for you could also be your biggest risk. How many times have you read restaurant reviews that focus on poor service or a waiter or waitress with a bad attitude? The customers may have had the most delicious food, but the review only talks about the person who served them. People who read those reviews will likely be put off, and this will affect your business. When you manage a team of individuals, you place your trust in each and every one. In most cases, they’ll do everything they can to help you succeed. But being late, doing a poor quality job, or looking unprofessional can all contribute to failure.

 

Make sure you have a robust recruitment process in place to identify and select the best candidates. Use your intuition and evaluate people’s characters, as well as their credentials on paper. Do you get a good first impression? Do you trust this person? Are they going to give the job their all and work hard for you? Do they represent what your company is all about? If you run a business, sometimes, you have to make difficult decisions. Hiring and firing are part of the job. If somebody is damaging your reputation or letting you down, it may be best to let them go.

 

 

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Technology and Internet safety

Many of us rely on technology. The problem is that technology is not always reliable. A technical glitch can cost a company millions of dollars and even put them out of business. If your website is down, you’ll miss out on sales. A negative experience can also prevent clients from using you again in the future. Internet safety is another potential shark. You may think that your business is safe, but do you really know much about protecting your business? Are you doing everything you can to reduce the risk of hacking and protect sensitive information? Have you got procedures in place to deal with issues that arise swiftly?

 

It is sometimes impossible to detect threats and prevent technological meltdowns. However, there are steps you can take. Book regular maintenance checks for electrical appliances, and keep your office cool. Provide training for employees. Make sure you have people with expertise in dealing with technological hiccups on board.

 

 

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Competitors

Success in business comes from beating your competitors. You need to stay ahead of the game and convince customers that you are the best choice. Today, competition is tougher than ever before. The Internet has increased possibilities for new businesses. Even the market leaders have to deal with new ventures snapping at their proverbial heels. It’s always wise to be aware of the risks posed by your competitors, and mindful of their tactics. Keep an eye on them using data analytics, and learn from their successes and failures. Which elements of a strategy have been successful, and which have fallen flat? Pay attention to others, but don’t lose sight of your own ambitions.

 

 

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Leadership challenges

Every successful business needs a strong, committed leader. If you’re not capable of running the ship, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your product is. You still run the risk of failure. If you’re not running your business properly, this can affect everything from staff morale to finances. Are you failing to chase up unpaid bills? Are you letting employees walk all over you? Are you waiting too long to address issues that are brought to you? If you’re a business owner, but you’re struggling to make the tough calls, consider your options. You could hire a manager or become a silent partner. Not everyone is comfortable with the nuts and bolts when it comes to business. If you’d rather be behind the scenes, there’s no shame in admitting this.

 

 

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Every business owner faces threats in various forms. To do well, you need to be aware of the risks and react quickly. Make sure you have the best people around you, and stay in touch. You need to know what’s going on from day to day. Keep an eye on your competition, and assert your leadership skills. Invest in appropriate technology and take steps to protect your business. Make sure you’re able to deal with potential bumps in the road as quickly as possible. Good luck!

Jerry Mooney is co-founder and managing editor of Zenruption and the author of History Yoghurt and the Moon. He studied at the University of Munich and Lewis and Clark College where he received his BA in International Affairs and West European Studies. He has recently taught Language and Communications at a small, private college and owned various businesses, including an investment company. Jerry is committed to zenrupting the forces that block social, political and economic justice. He can also be found on Twitter @JerryMooney