20 Types of Business Risk
John Spacey, updated on July 21, 2023
A business risk is a future possibility that may prevent you from achieving a business goal. The risks facing a typical business are broad and include things that you can control such as your strategy and things beyond your control such as the global economy. The following are common types of business risk.
Competitive RiskThe risk that your competition will gain advantages over you that prevent you from reaching your goals. For example, competitors that have a fundamentally cheaper cost base or a better product.
Economic RiskThe possibility that conditions in the economy will increase your costs or reduce your sales.
Operational RiskThe potential of failures related to the day-to-day operations of an organization such as a customer service process. Some definitions of operational risk claim that it is the result of insufficient or failed processes. However, operational processes that are deemed to be complete and successful also generate risk.
Legal RiskThe chance that new regulations will disrupt your business or that you will incur expenses and losses due to a legal dispute.
Compliance RiskThe chance that you will break laws or regulations. In many cases, a business may fully intend to follow the law but ends up violating regulations due to oversights or errors.
Strategy RiskThe risks associated with a particular strategy.
Reputational RiskReputational risk is the chance of losses due to a declining reputation as a result of practices or incidents that are perceived as dishonest, disrespectful or incompetent. The term tends to be used to describe the risk of a serious loss of confidence in an organization rather than a minor decline in reputation.
Program RiskThe risks associated with a particular business program or portfolio of projects.
Project RiskThe risks associated with a project. Risk management of projects is a relatively mature discipline that is enshrined in major project management methodologies.
Innovation RiskRisk that applies to innovative areas of your business such as product research. Such areas may require adapting your risk management practices to fast paced and relatively high risk activities.
Country RiskExposure to the conditions in the countries in which you operate such as political events and the economy.
Quality RiskThe potential that you will fail to meet your quality goals for your products, services and business practices.
Credit RiskThe risk that those who owe you money to fail to pay. For the majority of businesses this is mostly related to accounts receivable risk.
Exchange Rate RiskThe risk that volatility in foreign exchange rates will impact the value of business transactions and assets. Many global businesses have high exposure to a basket of currencies that can add volatility to financial results such as operating margins.
Interest Rate RiskThe risk that changes to interest rates will disrupt your business. For example, interest rates may increase your cost of capital thus impacting your business model and profitability.
Taxation RiskThe potential for new tax laws or interpretations to result in higher than expected taxation. In some cases, new tax laws can completely disrupt the business model of an industry.
Process RiskThe business risks associated with a particular process. Processes tend to be a focus of risk management as reducing risks in core business processes can often yield cost reductions and improved revenue.
Resource RiskThe chance that you will fail to meet business goals due to a lack of resources such as financing or the labor of skilled workers.
Political RiskThe potential for political events and outcomes to impede your business.
Seasonal RiskA business with revenue that's concentrated in a single season such as a ski resort.
Risk vs RewardThere is a strong relationship between risk and reward. It's generally impossible to achieve business gains without taking on at least some risk. Therefore, the purpose of risk management isn't to completely eliminate risk. In most cases, risk management seeks to optimize the risk-reward ratio within the bounds of the risk tolerance of your business.
RisksThis is the complete list of articles we have written about risks.
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An overview of competitive risk. A list of common types of financial risk. A list of common investment risks. The definition of legal risk with examples. The definition of operational risk with examples. An overview of passive risk. The definition of political risk with examples. The probability that you will fail to meet a goal due to a lack of resources such as skilled workers or financing. The definition of strategic risk with examples.
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