From the minute we roll out of bed in the morning, we’re riddled with decisions. How many cups of coffee should I have? What should I eat for breakfast? Should I even eat breakfast? What should I wear? How should I style my hair? What time do I need to be out the door to make it to my first morning appointment on time? And on and on and on.
Luckily, most of these are easy decisions we make without much thought. But what if you struggle with some of the tougher, business-related decisions, like how to handle a problem employee or whether to expand into a new region? What can you do to make those types of choices more confidently and with less stress?
Set a Time Limit
The longer you stay in limbo, uncertain how you’re going to handle a certain situation, the more the turmoil you’re feeling is likely to increase. This can create a lot of stress for you, ultimately keeping you up at night and making you question what the right action is to take. Therefore, you’re better off setting a time limit to force yourself to make your decision as soon as you intelligently can in order to limit this effect. Notice I said “intelligently,” which leads us to the next point…
Do Your Research
If the decision you need to make is one that is likely to have an impact on your business (like whether or not to try a new marketing activity) or the people you employ (if you’re thinking layoffs, for instance), then make sure you do your research first. You want to know up front what the potential impact is before you do it, increasing your ability to make the best decision possible for you, your team, and your company as a whole. Additionally, you want to make sure the decision you’re making will actually solve your issue, as Mind Tools warns that sometimes the issue you’re confronted with is just a part of the problem, offering only a temporary solution. One way they suggest to know for sure is to keep asking “why” (at least five times) until you get to the root cause of the problem so you have a clearer image of the decision that needs to be made.
Ask for Advice
Although you may be responsible for making the final business decision, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask others what they would do to see if they bring up any points you’ve not yet considered. Some individuals who can give valuable input include affected staff members, other business owners who’ve encountered similar decision-making points, and anyone else that you trust to give you their honest opinion.
Write It Out
When you have to make an important decision on the fly, it can help to quickly write it out. Simply sit down with a pencil and paper, write down the decision that you need to make in the middle of the page, and circle it. Then, on the left hand side, list all of the reasons you should do it. On the right hand side, list all of the reasons that you should choose not to do it. By looking at the decision visually, you can sometimes see more clearly which route is the best.
Trust Your Gut
Most of the time, if you pay attention to how you feel about the decision, your gut will tell you which direction you should go. While it can be hard to trust your instinct, especially if you can’t quite put a finger on why you feel the way you do, it’s important to realize that what you’re feeling isn’t just some premonition. It’s actually your mind picking up on things that your brain isn’t quite registering. And it’s usually pretty accurate. In fact, some studies, like one conducted at Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences, have concluded “that intuition was a surprisingly powerful and accurate tool,” as the subjects they looked at wound up making the right decision a whopping 90 percent of the time. So…trust what your gut is telling you. It’s probably not wrong.
Don’t Second Guess Yourself
Finally, once you make your decision, don’t second guess yourself and start to question whether you made the right one. Have faith in your abilities and remember that you made the best decision possible given what you knew at the time. Plus, at least you made one, which is often better than making no decision at all.
Any that I’ve missed? Feel free to comment below. That is, if you decide to.
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!