I’ve been reading, when I can, articles about risk lately. Most are written with regard to large institutional risk management, systemic risk management and all sorts sleep inducing ideas. But that’s not what I wanted to learn more about, however noble the thoughts of the writers were in most cases I think they are missing a point.
For me, working with entrepreneurs and new start-ups, is all about embracing risk and encouraging it. Because amplifying risk is a way to increase the amount of information one receives. Just like racing a car around a track. Driving within the limits is good but gives you little feedback about the car. Driving on the limit pushing hard gives you all the feedback you need about the car and its driver. High risk, high feedback. In business the feedback is vital, it's our market research and all those customer interactions (or lack of them!).
Obviously there is a balance that needs to be struck because there is a limit to the availability of funding and or time. Let’s imagine a ‘risk lever’ with the entrepreneur pulling one way towards more risk (for more reward) and on the other side we have funders (banks et al) on the other side trying to reduce the risk in order to protect their investment and secure their return. Who's going to win? The winner is normally the one who proves his results.
A good entrepreneur like a good engineer will seek out where the failure points are so that the risk of operational failure is reduced. My mantra for the last while has been to research the idea in order to seek out the risk and reward balance. Put in the hours push the envelope and ask the hard questions.
Then and only then, go forth and take that risk!
First Step networking events were characterised by a sense of shared effort, dynamism, and enthusiasm on the part of all mentors, facilitators, guest speakers and participants alike. On the basis of the feedback from my participants and evidence of their committed participation, this has been a very successful programme. It has met real needs and has empowered entrepreneurs to translate their business ideas into the early stage development of micro-enterprises. As lead mentor for 60 participants I believe we have stimulated the development of successful small businesses - which are the lifeblood of Irish entrepreneurial life and contribute significantly to employment in this country.
Ireland's microbusinesses and non-profit sector will benefit from two new initiatives recently launched by the MBA Association of Ireland, in partnership with First-Step and Boardmatch Ireland.
The MBA Association, which represents business people holding the Masters in Business Administration (MBA) qualification in Ireland, announced its plans to match the skills, expertise and experience of MBAs to the needs of start up businesses through the First Step programme and to non-profit sector boards through the Boardmatch Ireland programme.
MBAs work at every level of management in Ireland and across all business sectors. The MBA is the highest level general business qualification in Ireland and is well respected internationally.
The MBA Association/First-Step Initiative will allow companies supported by First-Step to avail of the business experience and expertise of MBA business leaders in a mentoring arrangement. "Many start-up companies have expertise in making or selling a product or service but perhaps don't have general management skills." Liam Fennelly, President of the MBA Association of Ireland explains. "In that context, the broad suite of business skills MBAs can bring to start up companies - financial, marketing and operational experience – should be invaluable."
Norma Smurfit, Chairperson of First-Step, commented "First-Step has developed an innovative lending model to financing start-up and developing enterprises in Ireland designed to help support micro-entrepreneurs and contribute to job creation and protect job losses. Understandably there has been a strong demand for mentoring from such business start-ups. First-Step is delighted to be part of the new MBA Association initiative and the opportunity it presents for its clients to benefit from the business experience and expertise of MBA leaders in a mentoring arrangement."