Gene Marks on Small Business Risks

Dealing with the risks that come with running your own business can be difficult and stressful. Business expert Gene Marks believes that the key to coping is "looking ahead."

Video Transcript

When people are talking about risks and what they should be thinking about, first of all, risks depend on your industry, okay? Your biggest risk is that you're not going to be in business five years from now and I talk – I, I sometimes talk to really smart business owners or ones you delegate but I can honestly say this. I've interviewed thousands of business owners across the country over the past 15 years and the ones who are successful, I, I can find one thing that they all have in common and that one thing is that they're always looking ahead. And what I mean by looking ahead, they're not so much concerned about whether payroll's going to be met next month – hopefully it will be – or whether what sales are gonna be next quarter, but the smartest people that I know are looking ahead three, four, five years from now. They really – they're thinking about that. Perfect example is, I have a client who runs a trucking company, a pretty nice sized one, over 200, 250 employees and it's a family run business, and he is the CEO of the business. And he actually, you talk about looking ahead, he actually stepped down as CEO and hired an outside CEO to come in so that he could devote his time – he's in his 50s – he could devote his time for doing nothing else but coming up with a policy for moving the business on to the next generation because he saw that his brothers and his sister that's in the business, have kids and he knew that for all the employees that are relying on him to make these decisions, because they have their livelihoods, there has to be a long term plan for this business – a good succession plan for this business. And he actually stepped down as CEO to do nothing else but come up with an external board of directors, an external succession plan, you know, what requirements the kids had to be to work in the business and, you know, what type of, you know, requirements there would be and policies for them to succeed or get equity in the business. I mean, like really thought – and he's still working on it right now. That's a guy that looks ahead. When you talk about, his risk is that he retires in 5 years and he's got a bunch of family members squabbling over the business and the whole thing goes down the toilet, right? That's his biggest risk. So to – instead of that, he's worrying about that, what's gonna happen five, ten years from now, and he's looking ahead. So if you're running a business you've got to be looking and saying to yourself, what's gonna be affecting me five, six, seven years from now, and what should I be doing now to make sure that I'm still around them. Am I reserving enough cash? Am I doing the right things from tax planning? Am I investing in the right technologies? Do I see the markets that I'm selling into, are they still gonna be there, you know, five years from now, or should I be making some changes now so that I'm still around five years from now? When you talk about mitigating risks it depends on your business but the owners that succeed, they're the ones that are looking ahead and mitigating those risks years from now.

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