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How are strong businesses built?

This is a question I’ve been pondering over the past few months as I’ve had the pleasure to work with many business owners who are seeking more profitability and popularity online. It’s been an interesting process to both coach, and witness. Most people seem to feel that they would be better business owners if they had more facts. More figures. More marketing strategies. More time. Just more of all the left-brained, logical stuff.

I used to be this way too- anyway, at least much more than I am now. I used to take pride in my numerical calculations. Crafting out precise schedules and dollar figures and very specific achievements.

And yes, that worked- to a point.

But what I’m learning is that a lot of business can’t be planned or captured in just the numbers. The numbers, while important, do not tell the whole story. They don’t capture your reasons for doing what you do. They don’t capture your mission, or passion, or purpose. They don’t capture the “whys?” that keep you going when the going gets tough.

In short, the numbers tell part of the story, but not the whole picture.

When was the last time you used your business intuition?

For some of you, it was recently. For others, you maybe have never heard of such a thing. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, I have a prediction for you. As we proceed into the realm of more new-ness, more uncertainty, and more new terrain- intuition is going to be at least as important- if not more important- than numbers.

In a sense, business intuition helps us way-find when the geography is unfamiliar and the topography strange. Just like in non-work life, intuition can help guide us when our usual approaches seem to fail.

If you want to have something different, you need to do something different.

Now, certainly, it is difficult to know when your intuition is speaking to you. But I think this gets easier with more practice and greater trust. So many of my clients are seeking some kind of quantum leap in their businesses- and I don’t think you can get there solely by the numbers. By its nature, a quantum leap is something way past where you’ve been before.

So it’s like the numbers are guiderails, or handrails, but your intuition is what actually sets the course or journey. I see, more and more, that the clients who are more comfortable with their intuition are more agile, nimble, quick- and able to make changes rapidly when circumstances require it.

More than specific skillsets or marketing skills, I think the way to move forward now will be based on a combination of what has worked in the past, innovated a bit for the future, and with numbers attached as a reality check.

So what are some ways to start utilizing your business intuition more?

1) Pay attention to the inklings and feelings you get. These are often the voice of intuition piping up. You don’t have to- and shouldn’t- make huge, big, bold decisions on every inkling. But do see if you can take one action in the direction of your inkling and see how it turns out. A small step is a small risk- but it will give you more information about whether to stop or whether to keep going.

2) Notice when your inklings are accurate. This will help you begin to trust them more. In my case, for example, I’ve always had a pretty good intuitive sense. I just never gave it a lot of focus or respect- preferring, always, to try and move forward through my mind and intellect. But as I get older, and I spend more time in business, I realize that inklings are meaningful- and often quite correct.

3) Perceive with your whole body. If you’re facing an important decision in your business, try to feel your way through it. Experience the outcome of one decision fully. Spend some time there and see how it feels and seems. Then, experience the outcome of another decision fully, and see and feel how that seems. It may sound strange, perhaps, but it will give you a chance to try out some possible realities and select the one you’d most like to experience.

Most of all, I think it’s important to realize that you likely already know enough of the strategies and skills you need to be successful. And if you don’t, you’re usually aware of a specific skill deficit. If, though, you find that you are always seeking more knowledge and more learning, but never applying it, really, it may be a very good time to take a big step back and feel if there is a better way.