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Andi Gray: Consider all your options before taking a big risk with your business

Andi GrayWe have a huge opportunity and we’re going to be taking a huge risk to go after it. This is the kind of risk and debt that could destroy everything I’ve worked for because it involves a ton of debt and if we get into a logjam we may not be able to pay for other things I need. We’re using all of our savings and then more. This is the big play. Got any suggestions?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Managing risk is a step-by-step process. You’ll have to choose from some imperfect options. As you think about what to do, keep things in perspective. Look for ways to minimize the consequences.

Build a checklist of options including:

  • Ask the bank or other lenders for the money you need.
  • Put the deal on hold and concentrate on building up reserves so you’re in a better position.
  • Look for another firm that might also be interested in some of the work that could provide resources, and that is not likely to try and take your firm out now or in the future.
  • Sell the business to a bigger firm that is more able to handle the work.
  • Find a financial partner and share the upside and downside on the deal.

Make a list of pros and cons for each option. That will help you look more analytically at why you might, or might not, want to pursue each possible solution.

Remember going into a big play you have options, but none of them are perfect solutions. You can choose to avoid or minimize the risk. This might mean taking a piece of the opportunity and not going after it all. Or you could walk away from the deal, and come back to it, or another one of similar magnitude, when your company is more prepared to handle it.

When considering your options, think about what it would mean to the company if things work out and if they don’t. Most entrepreneurs are good at seeing the upside, not so good at considering the worst-case scenario.

Think about what might happen if things don’t work out. What would you have to do? Fire people? Cut back on your personal income? Sell off assets? Could the company be in total jeopardy, and if that’s the case, what would happen to you, your family and all the other families that depend on your company? Is it worth risking all that?

Is there a safer option? Can you partner with someone who has deeper pockets or more resources to put toward the deal? Maybe you won’t get all of the upside, but you’ll also have protection from the downside.

Can you negotiate something more manageable? Can you cut down the size of the deal, or spread it out into more bite-size chunks that you can digest sequentially? What about going to a competitor in another geography and giving them a piece of the work, knowing that they won’t likely come around to set up shop in your backyard.

Can you find a financial partner to take on some of the risk? Someone who is willing to share in the upside and the downside will probably want equity, but this may be better than holding 100% of a big stinky bag of problems if things go wrong.

That same approach may hold true when considering selling out. This may be the optimal time to negotiate a sale. Think about the terms you want, including future employment, ability to operate independently, security for your existing workforce, continuation of your company’s brand, etc.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth” by Edward Hess.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics at 877-238-3535 or AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles at AskAndi.com.

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Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., strategyleaders.com, a business consulting firm that specializes in helping small to midsize, privately held businesses achieve doubled revenues and tripled profits in repetitive growth cycles. Interested in learning how Strategy Leaders can help your business? Call now for a free consultation and diagnostic process: (877) 238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Email her: AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Visit AskAndi.com for an entire library of her articles.

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