Despite all of the negativity in the world, as individuals we have a very positive or inflated opinion of ourselves. If you are a business owner, such inflation may be your greatest risk. A positive attitude and high self-esteem are great. But, when it comes to business decisions and recognizing risk, a positive, self-promoting attitude can actually create unrecognizable and elusive risk.
Think about this: how many people believe they are bad drivers, loud, or disliked by others? Not many, right? Similarly, most average business owners consider themselves intelligent, very capable in all areas, and smarter, more influential, and much more savvy than the next guy or gal. That mindset creates a certain level of risk, and the risk increases as the power and influence increases.
Consider the CEOs of major corporations. Most are Type A personalities and extremely sure of themselves. In many areas of business, this is exactly what is needed, and that is why so many are so successful. But, an unchecked ego can blind you to risk, some of it obvious risk, and this may be your downfall. When it comes to business, in order to get out of your own way, you need an outside perspective to compensate for self-blindness or ego. Most business owners are self-starters and believe they can and should do everything. But, as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know!
Owning your own business quickly teaches you that you are not an expert in all areas and that you need others to show you where the holes and weaknesses in your judgment exist. Self-reliance means you are likely, certainly in the beginning, to end up reinventing the wheel in many areas. The smart businessman or woman recognizes his or her limitations and surrounds him or herself with experts in various areas, or at least knows where to look for advice. Sadly, this is not the case with many business people, especially when it comes to cybersecurity and data breach. And politics for that matter. Sorry, had to throw that in there.
If someone would share his or her mistakes with you, inform you of significant risk, and guide you in the right direction, you would certainly listen, right? Like the commercial says, are you going to be your own doctor? Diagnose and treat yourself? Nope, too risky.
Then why, despite the constant barrage of media stories on data breach, theft of secrets and personal data, disruption to networks, and international hacking, do most businesses, especially small businesses, 80% in fact, ignore these warning signs? Most either turn a blind eye to the risk or have convinced themselves they can handle it on their own. Most business owners, especially small business owners, make comments like, “It won’t happen to me,” or “I am not worried about that, because I don’t have anything hackers want to steal.”
In fact, just the other day a probate attorney said to me that his clients’ estates were small, so hackers would not bother him or his clients. Really? Personal financial information is a huge target, and hackers aren’t going to hack into your network and evaluate your net worth before deciding to take something. Chances are the probate attorney who made that statement has little to no security. Hackers, like many of us, are lazy and will go after the low-hanging fruit and easy targets.
My best advice is: step away from the ego and have the risks of your business evaluated by an objective outsider who will not be swayed by self-interest, ego, or fear of financial impact.