Business owners are the ones who are ultimately causing their companies to fail by being risk-averse, and mid-sized companies are the most vulnerable.
That is the view of Sean Ashby, owner of iconic men’s swimwear and underwear brand, aussieBum.
“My business wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t take risk every week. It comes down to innovation. It’s such an important part of a growing business,” Sean says.
“If you don’t have innovation, then you don’t have a business in today’s world.”
However, it is not so much start-ups that are risk-averse, suggests Sean, but the mid-sized market, where the founders have built something of which they can be proud but feel reluctant to gamble to grow any further.
“That actually is often where failure occurs because you become so fearful of what you’re going to do, because you think of all the things you know could happen. Whereas in the earlier days, you didn’t know about any of that so the risks you were taking you just saw it as normal,” he says.
That doesn’t mean that you need to gamble with the business as a whole or do so unprepared, warns Sean.
“I actually try to, for the lack of a better word, be naive. When I’m taking risks, I look at the financial impact, but I’ve already budgeted for that. And I’m quite prepared to fail,” he says.
“And with failure, that actually motivates me. But without failure, that’s where complacency kicks in.”
It is for this reason that Sean suggests many business owners actually bring on their own worst fear – the death of the business they have worked so hard to create.
He notes that fashion is a particularly competitive industry, and it is only the ones that keep take chances and try new things which will survive for the longer term.
“[aussieBum is] 16 years young. Most fashion brands don’t last that long. It’s because we’ve kept reinventing ourselves, but I’ve also never accepted what we’ve done as being good enough,” says Sean.
Hear more inspirations, insights and cheeky tricks from Sean on the My Business Podcast below:
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.