Business is tough – as The Huffington Post states, 44 Australian small businesses close their doors every day. Everywhere there are threats to our business’ survival – hungry competitors, tech disruptions, and a continually changing economic and political landscape. But interestingly, our two biggest challenges as owners are right under our noses.
A frustrated client once confided, “Give me a business with no employees and no customers – that’s the business I want!”
As business owners, we’ve all been there. Customers are the centre of our world, but they can be demanding, needy and plain unreasonable. But without them, we’d be out of business in a flash. And while our team members can frustrate us on so many levels, without them we’d be self-employed (and a few bends round the twist).
So for most owners, the focus becomes building a team and a customer base that make your life 1) easier and 2) more profitable. I encourage owners to take it a step further and ‘sack yourself’: that is, to build a business that doesn’t rely on you, so you can devote the necessary time and headspace to building a better (and more self-sufficient) business. To do this, you need to focus on your people, processes and customers; if done effectively, your desired financial results will follow.
But with reward (more revenue, and less reliance on the owners) comes risk. Team members will make mistakes. Customers may be unhappy with the product or service your team members provide – or worse, they suffer injury in some form (financial, physical or psychological). And some people will act fraudulently or negligently.
As we live in an ever-litigious society, business owners must reduce your exposure to potentially catastrophic litigation. Short of guaranteeing your team will never make a mistake or a poor decision (unlikely), your best bet is to insure against these potential outcomes.
Now as an accountant, I have a physical aversion to spending money. Yet one of the first things I cover off with clients (and that I do for my own business) is to ensure the business and owners are adequately protected should the proverbial hit the fan.
There are many types of business insurance that relate to certain industries, professions and activities. For example, liability insurance insures you from damages or injuries to another person or property. A subset of this, professional indemnity insurance, is a must for anyone in the professional services industry. (And if you heed the lessons from my book Have your cake and sell it too and are building a valuable business asset you can one day sell for top dollar, you’ll be building a business that doesn’t rely on you – meaning you have a significant risk to mitigate.)
When deciding which type of insurance is right for your business, it’s vital to get expert help. The first step is to educate yourself on the types of business insurance available:
- The Understand Insurance website (http://understandinsurance.com.au/types-of-insurance/business-insurance). They can also help you find a specialist business insurance broker, which I urge every owner to do.
- The website of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) is another fantastic source of information and resources: http://www.asbfeo.gov.au/running-a-business/insurance
Finally, I urge every business owner to speak to an experienced insurance broker to ensure you have the right level of cover at the right price if something doesn’t go to plan. Importantly, you need to review your cover regularly to factor in your changing circumstances.
I bet that many of the 44 closures that happen every day could have been avoided with the right insurance cover. Don’t become another statistic.