Do a quick risk
step 14
You are now up and running, the business is going well, and
you are over the ‘start-up hump’. You are not out of the woods
yet – it’s time to do a quick ‘risk check’ on your business.
Risk check
We’ve been mentioning risks as we have gone along, mainly
under ‘Hazards!’, but let’s just check you’ve got them covered.
Have you protected your ideas?
You should have registered your designs.
Posted any copyright material to yourself.
Considered a trade mark for your identity.
Completed non-disclosure agreements with suppliers, staff
and contacts.
Done a legal MOT with your lawyers
To cover:
client contracts
supplier terms and conditions
employment contracts.
178 brilliant start-up
Under finance
Got rid of any personal guarantees on your borrowing, or be
within close distance of this.
Have at least 80 per cent of your clients paying within 60 days.
Know exactly how much money you have in the bank, and
this ideally to be equal to one month’s turnover.
Under insurance
Have adequate insurance for your main business assets.
Under sales
Be spending the majority of your time selling.
Have either a ‘sales funnel’ full of at least 14 leads, or a
minimum 5 per cent increase in new sales every month.
Have a price high enough that you lose a small proportion of
your customers.
Under ‘you’
Be enjoying yourself.
Mojo meter: coping when things go wrong
By now you will have had your fair share of scrapes and bumps.
It’s important you realise you are not uniquely rubbish at busi-
ness. If you get slightly more right than you get wrong, I think
you are doing pretty well.
Understandably, people are nervous about talking about their
business failures. But read about great inventors and entrepre-
neurs through history, like Eddison
and the light-bulb, and you real-
ise how many failures they went
through. It’s an inevitable part of the
fail quickly, cheaply and
don’t take it personally!
Do a quick risk audit 179
creative process. The secret is to fail quickly, cheaply and don’t
take it personally!
One of the best bits of advice I got from a mentor was: ‘Learn
crying as a negotiation technique.’ It sounds a bit harsh at first,
but it’s true. If you make a mistake, don’t try to hide from it.
What you’ll often find is that customers become more loyal to
you after you’ve made a mistake. Everyone accepts life doesn't
always go to plan. An early and upfront admission of a prob-
lem, and how you are going to fix it, will often reassure a
customer. There is also little as disarming in life as a heart-felt
apology, and it will usually defuse any tricky situation.
brilliant example
When I started off publishing yearbooks, I used to do all the typing myself.
Finishing a book late one night, I didn’t notice the spell checker had
‘corrected’ the name of the class president, Angus MacDonald, by taking the
‘g’ out of his first name. I shipped the books off to be printed in China and it
wasn’t until the graduation day that someone spotted the mistake.
I was mortified. I grovelled in humble apology. I offered to reprint the books.
I offered to apologise personally to Angus. However, the students just
thought it was funny and I got away with it.

Get Brilliant Start-Up, 2nd Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.