Stuck in Status QuoDoing things the way you always have will actually put your business at risk.

You’ve ventured out on your own to start an accounting firm. Risk aversion; however, interferes with growth.

Pushing back from risk actually puts your firm at risk. You find yourself facing many difficult decisions as your firm grows.  

When you prefer a sure outcome over a higher value gamble, you postpone you firm’s growth. So instead of opting to act, you remain in your comfort zone. Consider the amount of worrying you experience when faced with a difficult decision.

If you believe taking a risk may have a bad outcome, you may be overthinking. Instead of clearly evaluating your firm’s growth potential, and the necessary steps, you focus on the possible consequences. This make it easy to talk yourself out of something, even when it’s not based on fact.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review goes so far as to call risk aversion a danger. And, I agree. If you are avoiding all risk, you are shortchanging your business.

Doing things the way you always have doesn’t propel your firm forward. Let’s take a look at risk-aversion, ways to step away from it, and the benefits you will enjoy from making good choices with less stress.

5 Signs of Risk Aversion

Risk-aversion isn’t always about the great, big gamble. Awareness is the first step. Begin to notice which thoughts interfere with growth.

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  1. Avoidance. You hesitate to talk directly to your employee or contractor about small issues. The issue continues to irritate you simply because you haven’t addressed it. Instead of a quick 5-minute conversation to solve the problem, you endure it and build resentment.
  2. Authority. Your meetings go off-topic and last way too long. As a firm owner, you are expected to lead. Although you want to keep your meetings focused, you don’t want to cause any conflict.
  3. Advance. Routine is more comfortable than trying something new. You’ve been thinking about creating video resources for your clients. Because all the details overwhelm you, the idea gets pushed aside.
  4. Attached. Even though times have changed, you stall on adding new apps or modernizing existing systems. While other accounting professionals are jumping on board with innovations, you continue doing things the way you always have.
  5. Apprehension. You don’t invest in your accounting firm. Yes, cold, hard cash. You focus on the dire consequences of loss if the investment fails to pay off.

Start Testing the Waters with Action

risk aversionBeing comfortable with risk means changing your mindset. Taking small action steps will help you overcome your concerns.

  • Small steps. Start by taking small risks. Think of your action as an experiment. Then do it no matter what the outcome. As an experiment, the outcome doesn’t matter as much as the learning you achieve by actually implementing.
  • Good enough. Be comfortable with good enough. There’s rarely a perfect time to start something new. Good enough, instead of perfection, sets things in motion. As a result, you start to exceed your current capabilities.
  • Consequences. Imagine the worst-case scenario (you probably do this anyway.) Don’t stop there. Determine how you would respond if any of those things did happen. This exercise will help you realize the end of the world is not around the corner.
  • Options. Create a portfolio of options. Think of the portfolio as developing many options for your accounting firm to flourish. You minimize risk when you avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.
  • Unknown. Get comfortable with not knowing. At the beginning, some options may be unknown to you. That’s simply because you have never done this before. With time you’ll notice a shift in awareness. As you progress, a lot of your uncertainty disappears.
  • Beliefs. Success happens from the inside out. Business growth causes you to examine your beliefs. Often a perceived risk is based on beliefs. Ask yourself if you are risking your business or challenging your current beliefs.
  • Focus. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Along the way, you’ll find many smaller decisions lead to a successful conclusion.

Belief and RealityIs risk aversion and fear of making mistakes tormenting you?

This isn’t an overnight fix. Notice when you’re holding yourself back. Instead of giving into the fear and worry, get curious and explore other perspectives. This helps you to recognize the difference between idea-killers and idea-boosters.

The fear of making mistakes stops many accounting professionals from growing their firm. That’s because it seems like there’s so much at risk. So instead of taking giant leaps, begin taking tiny steps. Then evaluate your progress to make necessary adjustments.

As you work through your tiny steps, you’ll develop a sense of accomplishment. Your confidence grows because you chose to step up instead of resist. Remember, if you are afraid of making a mistake, just taking action is an accomplishment.

Rather than fear disappointment, focus on process and learning. Everyone has projects which don’t turn out as expected. When you start to notice the progress you make on a step-by-step level, even if the final outcome isn’t what you desired, the process itself gives you feedback on ways to change so that next time you’ll be even better.

When you can’t let go of control, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by trying to do it all. Start delegating small tasks. This reduces your workload and frees up your precious time.

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The need to be in control often stems from trust issues. You feel as though no one can do as good a job as you. In order for your accounting firm to grow, trusting people to work on projects or deliver what’s needed in a timely manner without micromanaging, actually encourages them to perform well.

Avoid the Rut and Create Your Own Path

Risk aversion can hold back growth. If you continue doing what you have always done, you are not being effective in your accounting firm. As you practice taking steps to reduce your fear of making mistakes, you’ll find yourself stepping up to strategically grow your firm.

The biggest challenge in overcoming risk aversion is changing your mindset. Breaking old belief systems takes work. It takes courage to manage risk successfully.

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