Business Advice

The “other” business risks: Dodgy IT contractors and AI legal docs

- September 25, 2023 3 MIN READ


This quarter, I’m looking at risky things. Not skydiving or motorbike racing, though – just the normal, everyday things that pose a risk to your business and could pull it undone, writes small business mentor and advocate Bronwyn Reid.

Of course, there are natural disasters, and the disaster management authorities are doing an excellent job of trying to prepare us all for another flood/fire/cyclone season. (Summer is coming. Start preparing).

This quarter I’m focussing on other risks that our businesses could face – and there’s plenty of them. Here’s two you that you may not have thought about. Or, if you have, you may not know what to do about them.

Cyber Security and business risk

This headline threatens all businesses – small, medium and large. Again, there are many experts you can draw on for advice so I won’t canvas them here. Just be aware that this risk is real, has killed many small and meduem businesses, and is not going away.

But there is an additional risk beyond the actual cyber threat, and my own business has been impacted by this on two occasions. The obvious protection is to engage an IT consultant to examine your IT systems and build the appropriate defences.

But what you can’t be sure of is the skill of that IT consultant. Many out there have assumed the title, created a website, and really don’t know what they are doing. One such “consultant” was almost responsible for the demise of my own business. It turned out that all the assurances given were worth absolutely nothing.

How do you protect yourself from dodgy IT specialists? The only advice I can offer is to talk to lots and lots of other business owners and get their reviews. Believe me, they will be very willing to share any bad experiences!

Artificial Intelligence 

I see four types of risk here.

  1. The “Will AI take over and put humans at risk?” question. I’m not going to address that here. That’s for other people to debate.
  2. The risk of NOT adopting AI. Is it risky to start using AI, or MORE risky to NOT use it and be left behind? The pace of change in AI uses and adoption is staggering. If you don’t get on the train now, it’s leaving without you. And it’s a bullet train. So you have no hope of catching it.
  3. What to use AI for? Content generation? Research? Creating fantastical images that don’t seem to have any use at all? One of my first experiments was generating a shareholder agreement for a Joint Venture. To me, it did a pretty good job. But I’m not a lawyer, and I certainly wouldn’t rely on that document! This article Why relying on AI for your contracts is risky business was published on this same platform in early September 2023. It’s worth a read.
  4. Which apps should you invest your time and money in? A tsunami of apps and platforms is washing over us, and it’s hard to know which to use. As with any new technology, there’s a cost to deploying it and integrating it into your business operations. I subscribe to a couple of weekly emails that give a summary of new apps they have reviewed and consider worthy. A simple click, a minute or two to look around, and it either goes on my list for possible use or is discarded forever. Using this technique, I’ve managed to narrow my list down to just a handful that are really useful for me.

Being an SME owner is a risky undertaking – no doubt about that. But the rewards can be amazing, and that’s why we do it. The trick is in identifying as many of the risks your business may face as possible, and doing something about them – NOW.

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Now read this

Why relying on AI for your contracts is risky business