Decision making is one of the hardest things that you, as a business owner and founder will have to do. Hands down. Why? Because it always feels so permanent. In this article, I’m going to cover three types of decisions: (1) Your overall business proposition (2) Your business direction and (3) Your mindset.
Why Decisions Matter
Before we explore the three types of decisions, let’s take a moment to examine why this is an important topic. Whether you’re in corporate or running your own business, whether you’re a small, medium, large or global business, the same reason applies. Trying to move a business forward without being able to make decisions is highly unlikely to happen. Basically, you just can’t move forward if you’re unable to make decisions.
If you think about places you’ve worked at where your boss, manager or the president of the company were unable to make decisions, I’m sure you’ll find that the people within the teams reporting into them were always confused about what the right thing to do was, always doing something then changing course, and always busy working but producing a low result for the business. And here’s the thing – it’s not the team’s fault. Unless everyone knows what they’re meant to be working towards, it’s just always going to be this way. Sometimes, the results can still be great – because of luck. But most of the time, they just won’t be.
The Impact of Decisions
So now what about the decisions you need to make (and could be struggling with) in your business? How do they affect your business? Whether you’re a solopreneur or have a team, not making the decisions you need to make will invariably slow you down by either stopping work from progressing or progressing it in multiple directions. If you don’t have a team, this could manifest as doing and re-doing work such as changing your business purpose, your target audience or your services. It could also result in changing your priorities every time you think you’ve made that decision, and therefore impacting the activities you’re currently focused on. Eventually, this will lead to burnout and more than that – to that undesirable feeling of failure. And if you have a team and are unable to make business decisions to guide them, you will cause them to spend their time in ways that won’t result in the ROI you need to make their hire a good investment. But it wouldn’t be their fault!
How to make decisions
Decision making is a difficult skill. It’s scary. It feels permanent. It feels like all eyes are on you, and any error in your decision will make you as the leader look bad. But actually, none of that is true. The first thing to know about making decisions is that any decision is better than no decision. So even if you do make a decision that doesn’t produce the outcome you want, it’s still better than not having made that decision in the first place. Why? Because now you know that the direction you went in wasn’t the best for your business. If you hadn’t made a decision, you wouldn’t know that. You wouldn’t know anything, in fact. Secondly, having made a decision also helps you and your team feel better because you have clarity. You know what you’re working on. You know what direction you’re heading in. You know what you need to do and why you’re doing it. Lastly, it demonstrates strong leadership skills. One of the things people look up to leaders for is their ability to make decisions. As a business owner, you need to be able to own that space within your business. To help you, let’s look at three major types of decisions business owners need to make.
Decision Making Scenario #1: Your Business Proposition
In this scenario, the type of decision you’re making impacts the business at a fundamental level. What is your business? Who do you serve and how do you serve them? What are your products and services? How do they get delivered? How do you make money? Essentially, this is figuring out your business model. Perhaps you have a ton of ideas about how you want to serve your customers. Or perhaps you don’t. Maybe you know exactly who your customers are. But then again, maybe you don’t. At the early stages of your business or when you’re going through a major change, pivot or adding a new line of products/services, you’ll find yourself in this scenario. There are several decisions that need to be made here, but altogether, they’re your business model. Most people I work with come to me with this piece of their business unanswered and we work on it together.
To be able to make a decision on this, there are three major components that need to be considered: what your customers want and need, what your competitors currently provide and what you can do to stand out in the market. Once you’ve collected the information across these areas, you’ll be in a position to create some options for your business model, and then pick the one that resonates most with you. Don’t just go for the easy one, or the one that feels safest. Go for the one that excites you – the one that gives you butterflies in your stomach and goosebumps on your skin.
Decision Making Scenario #2: Your Business Direction
This decision is the output of the earlier decision (on your business proposition or your business model). Once you’ve decided what you want to do, you need to figure out how you’re going to get there. This is where a business plan or a roadmap will come into play. Knowing where you want to go and what you want to do is a prerequisite. If you’re not sure about that, then figure that out first. Once you have that, you can start crafting your plan or roadmap.
The way I like to do this is to break down my goal into 5 strategic areas: Sales, marketing, product, operations and finance. I then identify what I need across each of those and then break that down into smaller goals. Once that’s done, I can see the roadmap more clearly and it becomes easier to map out the step by step actions I need to take to make it all happen. I follow this structure with my clients. We first get their business model clarified – who they serve, how they serve them, how they deliver the products/services that serve them and how they make money doing that. And then depending on their strengths, their preferences and what feels good – expansive, stretching but still in line with their values – we identify the steps required to get there, starting from the goals and working backwards.
Decision Making Scenario #3: Your Mindset
This last decision is the most powerful one. In order to get anything done in your business, whether it’s deciding to make an investment or deciding that you will fill up your program or sell out your stock, it all starts with the decision. Why? Because what you set your mind to is what you’ll eventually manifest in your physical reality. This isn’t something we grew up realizing, nor is it something we’re taught in our corporate careers. But the world of entrepreneurship is abundant with this knowledge. And here’s how it plays out: If you decide that you will get something, you will unconsciously act and do the things required to make that a reality. It may seem farfetched, but it’s not. You will show up, deliver, add value, work towards, and anything else to make that decision come true – if you truly believe it. But when you don’t make that decision, it leads to an inconsistent set of actions on your behalf. You just won’t show up in the same way.
So how can you decide and change your mindset? It takes practice. It takes being understanding and curious as to why your mindset isn’t decisive or positive. You can explore why you choose to see things in a negative or inconclusive manner. And then, you absolutely need to practice making those decisions. Decide that you will post on social media today. Decide that you will meet a perfect client. Decide that your content is being devoured by all your ideal customers. Decide that your product will land in front of your target audience. Decide those things first and see the magic happen.
Decision Making and You
In the end, only you can take control and start making decisions. Eventually, you might be able to outsource some of these decisions, but when you’re in the early stages of starting and growing your business, it’s important that you shape it the way you want it to be. Start small, make decisions that are easy, and then grow from there. And with each decision, you want to ask yourself: Does this excite me? Does it give me butterflies in my stomach? Does it scare me a little but also get me really pumped? Does it give me goosebumps? Remember, the direction you’ll head in with your business is dependent on these decisions. And so you want your decisions to be expansive and push you without causing you to burn out. You’ve got this.
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