If you’re just starting out as a business owner or manager, it is time to get comfortable with the decision-making process. You’re going to encounter situations on a regular basis where you need to make important choices and implement changes for your organization. The more prepared you are, the less overwhelming you’re likely to find it.
Luckily, there are many ways, as a small business owner, that you can navigate these questions and determine the right answers for you and your business. Most importantly, remember that the way we make decisions regarding any aspect of our lives is never completely black and white. Emotions always come into play and it is simply a matter of managing them responsibly and trying to keep a clear vision of the future.
Here are seven strategies to guide you through the business decision making process.
1. Always stick to the facts
When it starts to feel that emotions are escalating, one of the best things you can do is make an effort to refocus yourself on the facts at hand. Intuition is definitely a powerful tool for the business decision making process, but it should always be weighed alongside concrete information.
If you’re struggling to objectively analyze the available information, don’t be afraid to ask for outside input from trusted friends or mentors. A third party is also helpful in helping you see the role your personal biases and emotions are playing.
2. Always keep your “big picture” outcome in sight
Keeping an eye on both your short-term and long-term goals is an important thing for any small business owner to do. It is alarmingly easy to get side-tracked when caught up in the energy and momentum of a new enterprise, but it is important to stay anchored with a set focus on the big picture. Never lose sight of what it is you initially set out to do and the potential outcomes of your decisions.
3. Pay attention to employee morale
Regardless of the type of decision you’re currently being faced with, taking a look at employee morale will almost always provide some meaningful insight. For example, if your ultimate goal is to expand your business, by opening another location, offering new products, etc., then considering current staffing capacity, morale and ability to hire additional staff will keep your current employees happy.
Building a dedicated and reliable team is one of your best defenses against the unpredictable obstacles that you may be forced to face in the future.
4. Get input from those around you
Talk to the people in your organization! There is a valuable resource right in front of you. Seek their guidance on various topics, remember that you hired them for a reason. You also don’t have to limit seeking their guidance solely on those issues that directly apply to their jobs, they likely have an opinion all aspects of your business and sometimes an outsider’s take on a situation is the most helpful.
It is also a good idea to join your local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Association, as a way to gain feedback and guidance from fellow business professionals and entrepreneurs.
5. Don’t forget to breathe
Rarely does a decision need to be made immediately and although it can easy to cave to the desire to have the task over and done with, it is always a good idea to take some time to weigh your options. Any decision made from a state of panic is likely to failing to take some key factors into account.
Even in those rare situations in which you will need to make a decision sooner rather than later, it’s still important that you give yourself a few moments to process the situation and try your best to reach the final decision with a clear head.
6. Manage risk effectively
The business decision making process is most effective when a balance has been struck between the potential risk and reward of the situation being faced. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to adjust quickly to the new risk-filled environment you will be occupying.
The key is to balance that against reward, making smart, sound and measured business decisions. There is no magical solution to a tough situation, and it is necessary to avoid making rash decisions in order to make a problem disappear. Be reasonable and honest with yourself about the potential consequences of any action that you’re considering taking.
7. Look at everything as an opportunity to learn
Don’t beat yourself up when something goes wrong, take it and learn from it. There is always a way move forward and get your ship back on course. Admit when you’ve made a mistake and evaluate why things when wrong. If you’re able to learn from it this time, your decisions will only be that much more informed next time around.