Recently, I was in Spain and decided to learn to make sangria and paella–that delicious amalgamation of saffron, seafood and rice. Maria, who offered the class in her home, was exceptional as we chopped and measured. Paella is cooked in a large pan over an open flame. That day was particularly windy and Maria decided we should cook the paella inside the garage so that the flames wouldn’t get extinguished. I knew what a paella pan looked like but I had never seen a paella burner with its concentric rings of flame sitting on a tripod powered by a propane tank. Those close to me know I have an atypical fear of open flames, so you can imagine my adrenaline rising as we moved into the windowless garage to start to cook. Maria opened the propane tank but couldn’t get the burner to light in spite of several attempts. At this point my mind was racing–the propane is being released and is building up in the closed garage and one of these lit matches will cause a fireball! How will I get out of the garage when the only door is at least 20 feet away? Would it be unconscionable to push others out of my way as I raced to save myself?

At this point you may be saying “What does this paella story have to do with risk and growing my business?” Well, the assessment of risk is determined by weighing the likelihood of an event occurring against the consequence and making a decision based on your risk tolerance. The likelihood that an event will occur can range from very likely to improbable and the consequences of that event can be measured as major to negligible. Risk tolerance is often subjective based on personal experience. Tying it back to the paella, because of my low risk tolerance, I perceived there was a likely risk of fire with serious consequences and concluded that immediate action was necessary. Maria, on the other hand, was on the other side of the chart concluding that a fire in the garage was unlikely, the risk negligible and no change in action was necessary. We both wanted the same outcome–delicious paella for everyone–but had assessed the risk of fire differently and come to different conclusions as to what action was required.

When faced with business decisions, consciously or unconsciously, you weigh the likelihood that something positive or negative will occur, assess the risk and conclude whether immediate action, some action or no action is required. Some decisions may have little risk but with others, risk can loom with significant negative consequences including financial, reputation and interruption of business. Inaction is most likely when faced with significant risk events–head in the sand thinking! It’s understandable why operational or regulatory risk may cause a business owner to think “I’ll look at this later when I have more time.” Analyzing and putting a plan in place to address the risk is time-consuming and often complex but not addressing the risk also eats up valuable time that could be better spent growing your business.

Do you have a business risk that’s been identified but not yet addressed or are you facing regulatory risk because you received a notice from the Internal Revenue Service or another taxing authority? The likelihood of either of those risks disappearing is improbable and without immediate action could have major consequences. Let me bring my experience to you to objectively assess the risk your business is facing, determine the right course of action and change the consequences from major to negligible.

Oh, by the way, back in paella class in Spain, everything went without a hitch. There was no fireball and the paella was delicious! As a matter of fact, I’m considering buying my own paella burner to recreate Maria’s delicious recipe. The cooking will be done outside, though, with plenty of ventilation because although a fireball wasn’t created this time, there’s always a next time!

Intrigued? Have questions? Please email me at suzanne@suzannebarba.com and let me bring the business I’m passionate about to you!