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Business Risks

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Business Studies

Business risk is common in among all business types, thus the importance of effective risk management cannot be overstated. Business risk affects a business's ability to operate properly and succeed financially. Therefore, understanding business risk is essential for all types of business managers. Let's take a closer look.

Business Risk Definition

Avoiding risk is an impossible task for businesses, but controlling and properly managing risk is achievable. Before we continue with this, it is important that we understand the term 'business risk'.

Business risk is defined as any threat or force preventing a business from reaching its financial goals or causing a business to fail.

Forces that create business risk can come from internal sources, such as a poor management structure, bad publicity, theft, or the loss of talented employees. External forces may also be at play, such as the increasing prices of raw materials needed for production, increased competition, changes in customer demand, natural disasters, or changes to government or market policy.

Such forces make it impossible for businesses to avoid risk completely as they are unpredictable and can’t be controlled by the business. However, there are steps that can be taken by businesses in order to avoid these risks. An example is creating a risk management strategy.

Business Risk Types and Examples

There are five main types of risk a business may face:

  • Strategic risk

  • Operational risk

  • Financial risk

  • Compliance risk

  • Reputation risk.

Business risks, types of business risks, StudySmarterFigure 1. Types of business risk, StudySmarter

This risk arises when a previously laid-out business strategy becomes less effective or becomes no longer effective in a way that impacts business profit generation and growth, thus limiting businesses from reaching their set goals.

The risk can occur with changes in technology, the entrance of new competitors, changes in the business strategy of a direct competitor, or waning customer interest. To overcome this risk, businesses have to adapt their strategy.

Strategic risk occurs when a business's direct competitor cuts down the prices of its products or services, thus affecting the business originally positioned as a low-cost provider.

This is a risk that arises inside the business, hence it can be termed an internal risk. Operational risk arises from the business's daily activity. This can include technical failure, inappropriate decision-making, or employee-related issues. However, it is important to note that sometimes operational risks may be due to external events such as natural disasters, power outages, etc.

A major event involving the multinational bank HSBC occurred when an anti-laundering team failed to adequately stop a money-laundering effort involving Mexican drug cartels and some of the bank's employees in 2012. The company was made to pay a fine of around $1.92 billion to regulators.

Although all types of business risks have an impact on the business's finances, the financial type, as the term suggests, means the risk of sudden financial loss. This may arise due to changes in market conditions, providing credit to customers, and company debt.

An example of financial risk is selling your business's product on credit to 60 percent of your regular customers. This puts your business at great financial risk due to the fact that your customers may not or may not be able to pay for the services offered to them on credit.

This type of business risk is common in highly regulated industries. Compliance risk arises from businesses not following industry operations regulations in their state. Compliance risk may also arise upon introduction of new business operation regulations, which can significantly affect a business's strategy.

Compliance risk might occur when a food business expands its services from one geographical region to another, say from Africa to Europe. Since each geographical region has its own unique food regulations, the ones in Africa differ from those in Europe. This may force the business to set up a subsidiary in order to comply with local regulations, which could cost the business a significant amount of money.

5. Reputation risk

The reputation of a company is important. A company with a ruined reputation is at risk of losing public backing and customers, thus negatively impacting its brand loyalty.

An example of reputation risk is a business's continued inability to meet customer expectations with poor quality products or services. Sub-standard product may put the business at a risk of getting a bad reputation through customer reviews.

Causes of Business Risk

There are three categories for causes of business risk:

Risk may occur due to natural causes, or non-man-made factors that hamper the operations of a business. This may include natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc. Businesses can defend against this risk by taking out insurance coverage to soften the effects of these disasters on their activities.

Business risk due to human causes refers to human factors affecting the operations of a business. These factors may include employee issues, strikes, ineffective business management, poor decision-making, or changing consumer choices.

Economic factors may contribute to risk that limits businesses from reaching their financial goals. This may include increased cost of raw materials and labour, competition, market regulations, government policies, increasing interest rates, etc.

Accessing Business Risk

Business risks are generally unavoidable, hence the need for regular assessments. Businesses should aim to identify these risks and address them immediately. They can do this through the following:

  • Check and identify various sources that can promote business risk.

  • Start planning/implementing a strategy to deal with potential business risk.

  • Involve your employees in the identification of and dealing with potential business risks.

  • Identify business risks already experienced by direct competitors and create a strategy to deal with them.

  • Create a catalogue of business risks previously faced - and their solutions - as they may resurface again.

  • Assess the potential threat a risk can have on your business.

  • Always revisit your business risk control strategy.

Managing Business Risk

Below are ways to manage business risks:

  • Prepare a business plan that outlines future possibilities of market changes and the steps the business can take to mitigate their effects.

  • Invest in training of employees to deal with unsatisfied customers or natural disasters (e.g. flooding).

  • Employ experts and consultants who have specialised knowledge on how to deal with business risks.

  • Prioritise business risks on a scale of likely occurrence.

  • Insure business assets.

  • Diversification, also known as selling new products in different markets, might minimise the risk of competitors taking the business's market share.

  • Create a risk management team for your business.

  • Give a credit limit to high-risk customers.

  • Provide quality assurance for your products to protect your reputation.

  • Stay updated about the market, consumer interest, and your competitors and regulations, and embrace changes in the market.

Business risk is impossible to avoid, so understanding and constantly accessing the likelihood of potential risks is important in managing your risk. Business risk, no matter the form taken, impacts the firm's financial goals and can cause a business to fail.

Business Risks - Key Takeaways

  • Business risk is defined as any threat or force causing failure or preventing a business from reaching its financial goals.

  • Forces that create business risk may come from internal sources, such as a poor management structure, bad publicity, theft, or the loss of talented employees.

  • External forces may also be at play, such as increasing prices of raw materials needed for production, increased competition, changes in customer demand, natural disasters, or changes to government or market policy.

  • There are five main types of risk a business may face:

    • Strategic risk

    • Operational risk

    • Financial risk

    • Compliance risk

    • Reputation risk.

  • The three causes of business risks are:

    • Natural causes

    • Human causes

    • Economic causes.

  • Business risks can be managed by creating a business plan, training employees, using experts or consultants, diversification, and embracing changes in the market.

Business Risks

Business risk is defined as any threat or force affecting or limiting a business from reaching its goal financially or any force that will cause a business to fail. Business risk encompasses any internal or external factor that can cause a business to not meet its financial goal.

Forces that create business risk can come from internal sources, such as a poor management structure, bad publicity, theft or the loss of talented employees. They can also be external forces such as the increasing prices of raw materials needed for production, increased competition, changes in customer demand, natural disasters or changes to government or market policy.

There are five main types of risk a business may face, they are:


  • Strategic risk

  • Operational risk

  • Financial risk

  • Compliance risk

  • Reputation risk

The following steps are used in assessing business risk:


  • Check and identify various sources that can promote business risk

  • Start planning/implementing a strategy to deal with the potential business risk.

  • Involve employees in the identification and dealing with potential business risks.

  • Identify business risks already experienced by direct competitors and create a strategy to deal with them.

  • Create a catalogue of business risks already faced, and their solutions, as they may resurface again.

  • Assess the potential threat a risk can have on your business.

  • Always revisit your business risk control strategy.

Below are ways to manage business risks:


  • Prepare a business plan that outlines future possibilities of market changes and the steps the business can take to mitigate their effects.

  • Invest in training of employees to deal with unsatisfied customers or natural disasters (eg. flooding). 

  • Employ experts and consultants who have specialised knowledge on how to deal with business risks.

  • Prioritise business risk on a scale of likely occurrence.

  • Insure business assets.

  • Diversification, also known as selling new products in different markets, might minimise the risk of competitors taking the business's market share.

  • Create a risk management team for your business.

  • Give a credit limit to high-risk customers.

  • Provide quality assurance for your products to protect your reputation.

Final Business Risks Quiz

Question

define business risk?

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Answer

Business risk is defined as any threat or force affecting or limiting a business from reaching its goal financially or any force that will cause a business to fail. Business risk encompasses any internal or external factor that can cause a business to not meet its financial goal.

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Question

Forces of business risk are

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Answer

Internal and external 

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Question

give two examples of internal forces of business risk


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Answer

Business owners decisions and business management structure

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Question

give three examples of external forces of business risk 


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Answer

market competition, changes in customers demand and changes to government or market policies.

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Question

business risk can be completely avoided: 

 

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Answer

False

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Question

which of the following is not a form of business risk:


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Answer

Employee risk 

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Question

explain reputation risk 


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Answer

The reputation of a company is important for its business practices. A company with ruined reputation, is at risk losing the public backing and its customers, thus negatively impacting its brand loyalty.

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Question

: ……. risk is a type of business risk which arises from the business daily activity such as technical failure, wrong decision making, lawsuit, business management model or issues from employees.


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Answer

Operation risk

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Question

Operation risk can sometimes arise due to natural disasters?


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Answer

True

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Question

Explain compliance risk


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Answer

This type of business risk is common in highly regulated industries. Compliance risk arises from businesses not following their industry regulations or regulations of operation in the state they operate in. Compliance risk can also be due to the introduction of new business operation regulations which will significantly affect a business strategy.

Show question

Question

What are the three causes of business risk?


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Answer

The three causes of business risks are -

  • Natural causes

  • Human causes

  • Economic causes

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Question

market competition is an example of the …… cause of business risk


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Answer

Economic causes 

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Question

Give five ways to assess business risk


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Answer

  • Check and identify various sources that can promote business risk

  • Start planning/implementing a strategy to deal with the potential business risk

  • Involve your employees in the identification and dealing with potential business risk

  • Identify business risks already experienced by direct competitors and create a to strategy to deal with them

  • Create a catalogue of business risk already faced and their solutions as they may resurface again

Show question

Question

 In what ways can business risk be managed?


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Answer

 Below are ways to manage business risks -

  • Business risks that are avoidable should be avoided

  • Prevent business risk from happening by controlling forces within the business control that can lead to a business risk

  • Prepare strategies to contain potential business risks

  • Prioritize business risk on a scale of likely occurrence

  • Insure business assets

  • Create a risk management team for your business

Show question

Question

Explain strategic risk


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Answer

This risk arises when an already laid out business strategy becomes less effective or becomes no longer effective in a way that affects business profit generation and growth, thus limiting businesses from reaching their set goals. This is usually brought about by changes in technology, entrant of a new competitor, changes in the business strategy of a direct competitor, rising cost of raw materials needed in production, change in customers’ interest. To overcome this risk, businesses have to adapt their strategy to reduce the effect of the strategic risk.

An example of strategic risk is experienced when a business direct competitor cuts down the prices of its products or services, thus affecting your business which was originally positioned as a low-cost provider.

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