Q: What effect has a changed approach to risk had on your company?
Sector: Human Resources
There is a high level of risk involved with being an entrepreneur, which can be exhilarating for some yet petrifying for others. Over the past 18 months, we have changed the way we look at risk within FireFly-HR. We dedicated time to defining our true company values and now align decision-making and action to what is truly important to us. We have also changed the way we communicate by increasing our focus on courage and transparency.
Our first step with a new business opportunity involving a high level of risk is to ask how the opportunity supports our values. Our second step is to have candid and open conversations to identify where we will excel and also might struggle. This approach has allowed us to take on opportunities we may have otherwise been nervous about and turn down opportunities we may not be the best solution for. The courage it takes to have the conversations on the front end has created an approach to risk that is allowing us to flourish and feel confident.
Ashleigh Bechtel is the president of FireFly-HR, an HR consulting firm specializing in helping small to midsize companies create and implement people strategies to support their corporate strategies. Bechtel combines her experience in the operations and HR functions to design and support company cultures and build teams who create a foundation for long-term success.
Co-Owner and President
Often, risk is seen as a negative; the fear of the unknown and the possibility of failure can be daunting. On the other hand, risk can create the zest in life and lead to incredible results greater than ever imagined.
I started my career in the “gut it out” era of business. If you wanted to succeed, your business came first — long hours and a tough façade was conventional wisdom. In 2006, newly married with a one-year-old at home, my priorities shifted. Fueled by a naïve optimism, I took a risk and co-founded an architecture firm.
As the firm took shape and the great recession loomed, we learned the value of being authentic and being vulnerable. We locked arms with amazing advisors and recognized the power of being curious and continually learning. This curiosity led us to developing an unparalleled culture and delivery system. We celebrate our values of deep caring and respect, and have created a unique, family environment. Our risk was worth it; we are living the life we imagined.
Jill Hamblen, AIA, is co-owner and president of triARC architecture & design, leading the firm’s risk management, business development and human resources efforts. Hamblen discovered her love of business and her passion of contributing to her clients’ success early in her career. This focus remains an important part of triARC’s values — supporting clients through listening and creating space to allow them to operate successfully.
Co-Founder and CEO
Sector: Media Services
Compatibility. It’s something I still see too many leaders placing too little value on when it comes to their clients. Yet, what ingredient could be more important toward ensuring success?
A few years back, we started to think differently about this; we forced ourselves to be brutally honest about the widespread risk we were engaging in by taking on clients that just weren’t a great fit. We examined the reasons why we took on those clients in the first place. Sometimes it was for financial reasons. Other times, we thought we could adjust our approach to suit their culture and way of operating. In each case, we acknowledged that the result ranged anywhere from loss of employee, revenue and time to even damage to our culture because of unreasonable client behavior. We concluded it simply isn’t worth the risk to engage in client relationships that we know are not compatible in the long term. “Fit” is now firmly at the top of the list when we explore any new potential client engagements.
Liz Scott is co-founder and CEO of Catalyst Media Design, a paid media services firm based in Scottsdale, where she brings more than 20 years of experience in media planning, buying, client management and business development to her role. She is also actively involved in her community, serving multiple organizations that include Valley Leadership, The Junior League of Phoenix and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
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