by Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
From the minute you first open your doors, the risk of owning a small business can seem like an unwanted partner. It’s impossible to eliminate, and it doesn’t lend itself to accurate predictions. Still, it’s a fact of ownership life.
I speak from experience. When I started ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba in 2008 here in Chicago, I faced countless challenges especially as a woman breaking into a male-dominated industry. Over the years, I’ve developed seven solid strategies for minimizing business risk and maximizing professional success.
7 Tips for Reducing Your Business Risks
1. Stake Out Financial Stability
Develop solid money-saving skills as you build your business. When it’s time to double down on inventory, replace equipment, upgrade insurance and keep the tax man happy, you won’t be caught off guard. The success of long-term professional goals depends on real-time planning now for financial stability in the future.
2. Be Prepared for Slow Spells
One of the biggest financial risks of owning a small business occurs when a slowdown forces you to cut back on everyday expenses. Be honest with full-timers about reducing hours. Take responsibility with your personal finances too. Be prepared to weather slow spells knowing that they’re usually temporary setbacks.
3. Communicate With Your Customers
If a client feels surprised by the quality of services or price of materials, the experience can cost you money, future business and even a lawsuit. Make sure you and your employees clearly communicate your high standards to customers so that everyone knows what to expect.
4. Cover Employee Risks
Get the most out of insurance dollars that cover employees at work. From in-house staff to field techs, keep everyone safer with programs that include things like fire emergency procedures, best driving practices and CPR training. This strategy reduces on-the-job risks and can lower both insurance premiums and business liabilities.
5. Anticipate Seasonal Ups and Downs
You don’t have to sell fine furs or install swimming pools to know that goods and services can be seasonal. Reduce the financial risks of running a small business by sharpening your forecasting skills. Always keep a close eye on inventory fluctuations, and be prepared to adjust with backup suppliers if necessary.
6. Take Care With Contractors
Just like you, most contractors give their very best to their businesses. Still, proceed with caution before you hire. Look over all papers before signing, and verify costs, deadlines and milestones in writing. If in doubt, ask your attorney to help make the final call on big projects.
7. Fine Tune Risk Management
Talk to your insurance carrier about different coverage options. Keep your cyberspace safe by hiring a good IT company. Get better at what you do by learning from your competitor’s mistakes. You can’t cover all the risks of owning a small business, so fine-tune the way you focus on them.
We Can Handle Risky Business
As women entrepreneurs, we have unique talents for running our businesses. It isn’t easy, but it pays off in professional success and personal satisfaction. When it comes to taking care of risky business, we’re natural problem solvers. I hope that sharing my experiences helps you put together strategies that work for you today and well into your future.
Diana Rodriguez-Zaba launched her business in 2008 and has grown ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba into one of Chicago’s largest and most successful franchises. She’s deeply committed to her family, her employees and the communities that she proudly serves.
Melissa Stewart is the founder of SheOwnsIt.com. She is a Purveyor of Possibility, Entrepreneur Advocate and Coffee Addict. She believes that behind every successful woman is her story. What’s your story?