Many business owners are cautious of taking risks. Quite rightly too, cash is tight, the future is uncertain. So often we stay with what is safe and plod along doing the same thing. We neither grow nor shrink our businesses, we just make a living. In reality, we buy ourselves a job.

Those business that do really well seem to take risks. I say “seem to” because they don’t really. But, for example, if you see a successful shop start to open another branch, then think of opening several more, we naturally perceive that business owner as being a risk taker.

I qualified as a commercial pilot earlier in my career, then spent a while flying and instructing aerobatics. At first glance it seems like I was taking a risk. But actually, (and those of you who do dangerous sports know this) I was grabbing risk by the scruff of the neck and making sure it didn’t bite me.

It was all down to the precautions. Before any flights the ground checks were extensive. More than once I refused to take the aircraft because of an apparent minor fault. A slightly faulty airspeed indicator may sound a picky thing but it could kill you if you put the plane into a stall and a spin because your air sped was too low. In the air the checks were done by memory every 10minutes or so. Before every aerobatic manoeuvre such as a loop or a roll there were 8 mental checks to run though. Check check check. That’s grabbing risk by the neck and making sure it doesn’t bite you.

So it wasn’t a question of taking risk at all, it was a question of checking everything to minimise risk. And this is what successful business people do. They are clear about what they want in place before they make decisions.

A business I ran was ready to expand by getting more staff on board. But I spent the first months with these staff making sure they knew all the systems before they were let loose on their proper roles. Why? So that there was cover in the business in case of sickness or someone leaving. Don’t stretch yourself thin is a phrase many of us are familiar with, its common sense and a good example of grabbing risk and making sure it doesn’t bite you.

Your business should be flying higher and higher. And it can be if you want it to. But don’t think of it as taking risk, just aim at what you want, check, check, check, that you have put everything in place, then go for it.