One of the most important skills you can develop in business is that of decision-making; closely followed by the conviction to stick to your decisions, once made. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be called upon to make all kinds of decisions everyday- about big ideas and small ones, too.
Like any other business skill, decision-making is one that can be learned– and once learned, can be honed through practice.
So how do you become a better decision maker? Here is a three step process I use to continually bolster my decision-making skills.
#1) Start small. When I have to make a big decision, I start by making a series of small decisions. Rather than considering the whole decision at once, I break it down into its various parts and make decisions about those parts. Let me give you an example:
Some years ago, I was approached to take on an executive position in a digital media company. They were looking to hire a full-time Director to develop and implement online marketing campaigns. The opportunity seemed to be good- and it was exciting- and potentially lucrative. I say potentially, because there was some performance-based compensation as part of the package. When deciding whether I should take this position, I didn’t start with the big question of “should I take this position?” – but, instead, with a smaller set of decisions, around the question “What would make me really want to take this position?” “What would have to be in place for me to take this position”- questions like that. This shifted my thinking from one big decision into a series of smaller ones.
Start small can also refer to decision-making in general. If you feel you could be better at making decisions, practice by making more of them- even if they don’t really matter. The more comfortable you are with making decisions of all kinds, the easier it is to make them.
#2) Blend feelings and facts. It’s important to use both logic and intuition, or reason AND feelings when making decisions. For the logical side, consider a pros-cons list. For the feeling side, try experiencing the best and worst outcomes of your decision. If all else fails, flip a coin- because, as the old saying goes, as it lands, you will know which side you want it to land on. The clearer you can be about the practical- and the feeling- aspects of the decision, the easier it will be to make a good decision.
#3) Know you can correct most of your decisions if you need to. Perfectionism is not necessary, as most decisions are not irrevocable. This means you can make your best decision, and then, if you learn it wasn’t the one to make, you can correct or adjust. It’s usually better to make an imperfect decision rather than none at all.
Deciding by default is not really a winning business strategy. And yet, many entrepreneurs wait, avoid, procrastinate- and therefore make decisions by default (or the decisions are made for them!)
Being a good decision-maker might take time, effort, and practice. It’s a worthwhile skill to develop and practice along your entrepreneurial journey.