What Is Risk Management in Business?

May 17th, 2023

Discover how to manage business risks and implement risk management strategies in your organisation here. Minimise the risks that come with running a business.

Running a business can be a challenging but rewarding task. When founding a company, people might be more interested in the opportunities and benefits of starting a business, but risk management is essential for any organisation.

The goal is to consider the potential risks a business faces and assess the likelihood of problems happening and the potential impact they can cause. From there, companies develop a plan to mitigate risks.

In this article, we will explore the techniques for risk management and how to implement them in your organisation. Understanding how to protect your company from potential problems can improve your business’s overall performance and resilience. 

What is risk management in business?

Risk management refers to the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating the potential risks a business may face.

Risks can arise from various sources and greatly impact a company’s work and future. Risk management aims to avoid greater impacts on the organisation, its stakeholders, and its bottom line.

The process of identifying and assessing potential risks is critical for businesses of all sizes. Not only this approach protects company assets, but it also helps to manage uncertainty and ensure long-term success. 

What are the most common risks for businesses?

There are many different types of risks that businesses may face. 

Specific risks will depend on the nature of the company and its operations, with some sectors presenting more risks than others. However, some of the most common issues businesses might face are:

1. Financial risk

Financial risks include losses due to market fluctuations, economic downturns, or cash flow problems. 

Some of the issues companies may face are predictable and preventable, while others might come as a complete surprise to executives and stakeholders. 

2. Operational risk

The day-to-day operations of a business are also susceptible to problems. Operational risks include equipment failure, supply chain disruptions, or employee errors. 

Some sectors are more likely to face this type of risk than others. 

3. Strategic risk

Strategic risks are related to the long-term strategy of a business, such as changes in consumer preferences, technological advancements, or new competitors.

When faced with this type of risk, businesses might have to change the way they approach the market, advertise products and relate to partners. 

4. Reputational risk

This risk relates to the potential damage to a business’s reputation. Factors such as unethical behaviour, accidents, negative publicity, or customer complaints can increase reputational risks. 

5. Legal and regulatory risk

This includes the risk of legal action or regulatory penalties due to non-compliance or breach of contract. 

6. Cybersecurity risk

This type of risk has become increasingly common. It includes the risk of data breaches, hacking, or other cyber attacks that can compromise sensitive business information. 

7. Environmental risk

Environmental risks play an important part in risk management nowadays, as companies are more concerned about their impact on the world and how the public perceives them. This category includes environmental damage or liability due to factors such as pollution, waste disposal, or climate change. 

Why perform risk management?

As discussed, risk management is essential for any business, as it helps organisations achieve their objectives while minimising potential harm.

Recently, people have become more concerned about issues related to the environment and privacy, for example. Being aware of the risks associated with these areas means a healthier and more successful future for your company. 

Here are some of the benefits of including risk management in your business strategy:

1. It protects the business

Effective risk management helps to protect companies from financial, operational, and reputational harm. It enables organisations to identify potential risks and take the appropriate steps to mitigate or avoid them, reducing the likelihood of losses. 

2. It improves decision-making

Risk management provides businesses with valuable information and insights that can improve decision-making. 

Organisations can make informed decisions and develop effective strategies that align with their objectives and risk tolerance by identifying and assessing risks. 

3. It enhances efficiency and effectiveness

Risk management helps to enhance the effectiveness of business processes. It identifies and eliminates potential obstacles or challenges and allows organisations to focus on what drives their businesses forward. 

Companies can implement tools to minimise risks and operate more smoothly to achieve their objectives and support their customers. 

4. It enhances reputation and trust

Effective risk management can enhance a company’s reputation and build trust with stakeholders. This can then lead to improved partnerships or investments.

It is crucial that companies proactively work on their risks, demonstrating their commitment to responsible management and their ability to protect stakeholders’ interests. 

5. It supports compliance

Effective risk management helps businesses to comply with legal and regulatory requirements. 

Companies can avoid legal penalties by identifying and addressing potential compliance risks.

6. It supports innovation

When companies identify and assess potential risks, they can take calculated risks to innovate and transform their businesses. 

Since risk management encourages better-informed decisions, taking calculated risks can bring significant rewards. 

How does risk management work?

There are different methods to approach risk management, but they all follow similar paths. We will cover these techniques further ahead, but here are some steps that companies can take to implement risk management practices:

Step 1: Identify risks

The first step in any risk management approach is to identify the company’s risks.

Working with specialised companies might help businesses at this stage, as they will be able to analyse operations, processes and the industry as a whole from an outside perspective. 

Step 2: Assess risks

Once the risks have been identified, the next step is to assess them.

At this stage, companies analyse the likelihood and impact of each risk and prioritise them based on their severity. This will help the company focus its resources on the risks that are most significant and more likely to affect the business or have greater consequences. 

Step 3: Develop risk management strategies

With priorities clearly defined, companies should develop risk management strategies to mitigate or avoid the issues that were identified in the previous steps. 

Strategies may involve implementing controls, policies, or procedures to either avoid or minimise the impacts of risks. 

It is important that these strategies are aligned with the company’s objectives, risk tolerance, and resources. 

Step 4: Monitor and review

Companies should regularly monitor and review their risk management practices to ensure that they are effective.

Often, risks change and become more severe or imminent, and organisations should continuously assess them and their strategies. This may involve measuring performances and identifying areas for improvement. 

Step 5: Engage stakeholders

Engaging stakeholders, such as employees, customers, and suppliers, is essential for effective risk management. 

Companies should communicate their risk management practices to stakeholders and encourage their involvement in the process, helping organisations identify risks and list priorities. 

Step 6: Build a risk management culture

When dealing with risks, it is important that companies build a risk management culture, emphasising the importance of identifying and managing potential issues.

Since problems can affect every department, all employees must be prepared to identify and report potential risks. 

Risk management techniques

As we have mentioned, there are many different ways to approach risk management, and companies can use various techniques to identify, assess and mitigate the issues they may face. 

Risk assessment

Risk assessment involves identifying, analysing, and prioritising risks. It is a process of evaluating the likelihood and potential impact of each risk that has been identified to determine the best approach to mitigate it.

This is a continuous process that requires regular review and updates to ensure that it remains effective. 

Risk assessment is a systematic and proactive approach to managing risks, focusing on how they might affect the company based on their severity and likelihood. 

Risk mapping

This technique involves creating a visual representation of potential risks and their interrelationships. It goes beyond identifying and analysing risks by looking into the underlying causes and effects of issues. 

Mapping provides a holistic view of the organisation’s risk profile, offering a deeper understanding of the root causes of risk and their relationship with other potential issues. 

Scenario analysis

Scenario analysis is a technique that involves assessing the impact of different scenarios on an organisation’s operations and performance. It is a process of identifying potential future events and evaluating their impact. 

This approach differs from others by beginning with identifying scenarios rather than risks. Companies will consider a range of factors, such as changes in the economic environment, geopolitical events, or natural disasters. From that, they analyse how these events might impact the organisation.

Scenario analysis focuses on evaluating the likelihood and potential impact of future events that may not be immediately apparent. 

Control implementation

With control implementation, companies implement measures to reduce or mitigate the impact of potential risks. 

Once the company has identified the risks and assessed their likelihood and impact, it is necessary to develop control measures to reduce problems. This may involve developing policies and procedures or providing training programs to employees. 

Control implementation focus on the effective ways in which companies should avoid risks.

Risk transfer

Risk transfer is a technique that involves transferring the financial consequences of an identified risk to another party, such as an insurance company or a contract partner.

Through this approach, companies determine the best transfer options for each identified risk and may purchase insurance policies or make changes in contracts with partners. 

With risk transfer, organisations can identify other entities that can better manage the financial implications of risks, leading to a more effective risk management strategy.

Risk avoidance

As the name suggests, risk avoidance involves completely avoiding or eliminating the potential sources of risk. 

With this technique, once risks are identified and assessed, companies determine the best options to avoid them altogether. This may involve changing the organisation’s operations or policies. 

Risk acceptance

This risk management technique is the complete opposite of risk avoidance. It involves accepting the potential risks and their consequences and continuing with the normal course of operations. 

Businesses that take this approach create plans already expecting the potential losses caused by these issues. This may involve setting aside funds, for example. 

Contingency planning

Contingency planning involves creating a plan to manage the consequences of a risk if it occurs. Unlike risk acceptance, in which companies embrace the risks, this technique aims to mitigate the consequences by developing a response plan, setting funds aside or creating a backup system to minimise impacts.

This approach allows companies to be prepared for the consequences if a risk occurs. 

Risk communication

Risk communication aims to facilitate decision-making and risk management in case of risks. It involves conveying information to relevant stakeholders, letting them know about the potential consequences of the issues that may arise. 

Companies can share the information through reports, presentations or other materials., adjusting them according to stakeholder feedback.

This approach allows everyone involved to make informed decisions about how to manage the risks, which can improve the overall effectiveness of a company’s risk management plan.  

Final thoughts

Effective risk management is critical to the success and resilience of any company. Risks will always be involved in running a business, and it is important to prepare for them according to the organisation’s goals and values. 

Businesses can minimise the impact on operations, finances, and reputation by identifying potential risks and developing a plan to manage or mitigate them. Knowing what issues your company might face improves your relationship with customers and stakeholders. 

There are many techniques and approaches to risk management, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The key is to use a combination of approaches that are tailored to the specific needs of the organisation or their industry. 

Working with companies capable of assessing and managing some of the most common risks, such as legal and regulatory, or reputational risks, can offer a clear path to business owners looking into mitigating the consequences of problems. 

Prioritising risk management means businesses can improve their decision-making and increase their chances of success in the face of uncertainty.

Emma Lisauskas

Emma joined The Briars Group in 2011 and has gained her knowledge working in many roles since joining, her commitment to the company has seen her progress to Operations Director and a valued member of the Executive Leadership Team. Emma works with Gemma Bignell and Amanda Simon to meet new clients, improve our services and is responsible for all commercial operations across the departments. Emma is a member of the Institute of Legal Executives and a qualified C-DPO amongst many other technical certifications and qualifications but currently focuses on strategic commercial operations and compliance! In her spare time Emma is the Captain of her local netball team so is busy leading another group of individuals to success!