It’s not our fault!

We want to manage risk but gee golly wiz, the choices we have to make!

If we have $1,000 to spend on preventative care in our life, our dentist says we need to correct our frighteningly long canine teeth, the mechanic tells us that our car will, not may, will explode if we dare to put it in reverse again, the doctor is harping on us to put his camera where the sun don’t shine and apparently the septic tank hasn’t been pumped out since Star Trek came out; not the movie, not the other movie, not the other series, the first, original Star Trek.

Which of these crises does a person throw their hard-earned money at to do the most good for the least amount of money?

And we’re already spending a small fortune on insurance. Insuring that we’ll be ok if disaster strikes. Car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, turtle insurance (though they rarely get sick so why does this even exist?).

It’s about as bad on the business-front.

Susan needs a certification class asap or she’ll leave. No one likes her but only she knows the code to the safe where we keep the petty cash. And if she leaves, you know she’s not going to tell us and then there goes pizza Fridays! We’re a little behind on funding the retirement plans but hopefully no one will notice for a while. We haven’t had a planning retreat in several years and the website that we spent so much time and money on two years ago is already showing signs of ineffectiveness. Is it supposed to forward all our visitors to terrorist recruiting sites?

Every breath we take, every move we make—thanks Sting—is seemingly about managing the risk in our lives. And it’s like a delicate juggling act with a bowling ball, a flaming sword and a kitten.

When we get behind, we spend our time putting out the fires that our lack of risk management caused. And the fire is always worse than the cost of preventing it in the first place.

We tend to put in alarm systems after the fire.

We get regular checkups after we get prostate cancer

We improve website security after our data is stolen.

Which of these crises does a business person throw their hard-earned money at to do the most good for the least amount of money? What’s the worst that can happen today? How’s that for a fun way to start your weekend?

But isn’t that how we need to look at our business?

Consider our paper company: If our top salesman Dwight K. Schrute leaves because our diversity training didn’t include the Amish, we drop 25% of our sales. Ouch, that hurts.

If the warehouse burns and we’re not insured, we lose $200,000 in paper products and Darryl will be furious. Bigger ouch.

If we don’t build Ryan’s website that allows our customers to make easy paper purchases, we may get put out of business by Office Depot. All the way ouch!

So, make a list and check it twice. Where are the ouch points? Where can treatment be delayed?

We need to deal with the things that will really hurt us and make a plan for the treatment of the others over time.

Really, the key to all of this risk managing, be it on the home front or at work is to find an honest expert to talk through it with. Talking to the expert—the honest expert—can be invaluable in making these choices.

An honest mechanic will tell you that you can get by without changing the air filter for another few thousand miles. An honest doctor will tell you that no one needs as many weekly colon exams as the advertisers would have you believe and an honest website company will tell you that refining your website will get you through the year until that EOL for the CMS is closer than 2 years from now.

Life, like war and any episode of The Real Housewives, is about watching your backside while trying to move forward just a bit. You have a finite amount of money to spend on managing risk. Find good partners and talk it out with them and move forward carefully, but boldly.

And Susan? It turns out that she wasn’t that eager to leave anyway. We were the only place that would let her bring her three cats to work with her.

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.
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