How to take (responsible) risks for your company

The ability to look ahead can be the difference between a short-term gain and long-term investor impact

At a certain point, you will be faced with the decision of whether to expand your products and services or stay on a steady growth path focusing on your current portfolio. Sometimes it is forced upon us, and many times you have to trust your gut and make this call.

As you contemplate these types of decisions you need to balance the risk and reward of not just the impact on the current bottom line, but also the long-term plan. This vision to look ahead can be the difference between a short-term gain and long-term investor impact.

Often, CEOs forget the goal of most investors is a killer exit strategy. That means building a solid foundation and becoming attractive in sales or building a new market segment. Our job as a leader is to steer into those markets and create value for the shareholder. This typically involves taking some risks and recognizing that low-risk companies often sell for a premium.

One way to help take responsible risks is to manage and make decisions as if you are preparing to go through the due diligence process of a potential acquirer.

Visualize what you want your end goal to be and work backward in building your plan to make sure you and your team are as thorough as possible.

Surround yourself with a strong and trusted board, leadership team, experts/consultants/mentors and multiple customers, maintaining alignment with core values and company mission, and ensuring that the products and/or services are consistently relevant to market demand.

Include risk assessment in board and leadership meetings to make educated risk decisions as part of the decision-making process.

As a CEO, there will be many times when you won’t know the outcome and you and your team will be living on the edge among uncertainty and, sometimes, confusion.

Drawing on your past experiences, knowledge and the trusted community you’ve developed, you can responsibly manage risk and reap the many rewards that will follow.


Ben Smith is the CEO of the business consulting firm Xcellerate. His team works with clients to develop business plans, create marketing strategies and turn ideas and research into revenue. As a marketing and operations veteran who has helped create several billion-dollar brands, and as somebody who has deep agency and consulting practice experience, he is sought after to help new operations launch or expand.


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