Risk Mitigation and The Road of White Crosses
One of my fondest memories is that of being a young man in my early 20’s, single, and hitting the open road “out west”. Although my trips always had a purpose and a destination, I wasn’t one of these people who gets on an Interstate highway, and bombs along at 80 mph driving until exhaustion and collapsing in some roadside motel, only to start the process all over again the next day. What an absolute waste of on opportunity to see the world!
Instead, I like to take my time, learn about the places I’m in, about their history, and how they contributed to our society. I like to hike trails, camp in campgrounds, talk to locals, and read historical markers. History has always fascinated me, and there’s generally a lot to learn that can be applied to everyday life and business.
There’s a road in west Texas that hugs the Rio Grande River along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. They call it the River Road, fittingly. It’s a brownish ribbon of asphalt highway that winds through mountains and across plains and as you head west, Mexico and the Rio Grande are to your left and Texas Hill Country and the vast expanse of the United States covers the horizon to your right. There are some spectacular river views along this road, something you’d never see on Interstate 10.
I recall one particular section of steep windy mountain road that was littered with white crosses. I found it hard to believe that so many people could have died along this stretch of road, treacherous as it was. Who knows, maybe there was a horrible bus accident or something. It got me to thinking about taking the road less traveled. On one hand, the rewards can be tremendous. On the other, there are dangers to taking risks that often have consequences.
In business, risks lurk around every corner. And the reality is, the statistics for business survival aren’t so great. 20% fail in the first year. Half fail before year five. Opening a business is a lot like taking the River Road. Many opt for the boring Interstate option, and while certainly safer is almost as sad as those white crosses lining the side of the road.
There is, however, plenty one can do to mitigate risk in any business situation. If you go careening down the road recklessly, sure, you greatly increase your likelihood of driving off the road into business failure.
On the flip side, if you plan, market, continually develop, and execute on your business plans, you can cut out many of the dangers of failure and enjoy one heckuva trip! No, it’s not going to be 100% risk free, and little is in life. But it can certainly be made much much safer.
One of the really neat things I recall about that trip out west was all of the little towns I drove through along the US/Mexico border, all had little FM transmitters you could tune into that gave a little spiel about the history of each little town. I found that utterly fascinating, and even if I didn’t stop in each place, I learned something about it. I always thought that would be a cool business idea if someone could tie GPS technology to some sort of history database that you could listen to on a road trip whenever you pass through a new town or pass an historical marker. To my knowledge, it doesn’t yet exist. If you invent it, please send a royalty check to….
Todd H. Smith, Founder & CEO