I knew I was procrastinating but sometimes I hate when I have to make decisions.
So there I was…suspended between writing a blog post and completing the documents for my Top Level Speakers Program.
Then my phone rang. On the phone was my fave business colleague and friend, inviting me to “a quick power lunch.” In a flash I made my decision. Lunch it was!
I know there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
If you do too, you can understand why I was not surprised when no sooner had I ordered my meal, he dropped his little confession:
“If you don’t mind, Lorns, I invited you here to ask you: what is your secret for making decisions?” how do you do it?
I allowed my expression to remain blank as I waited for him to explain some more.
“I mean…look at the way you just decide on things and implement them in your business and in your life…me I have to go all the way around the world and back and still can’t seem to make the decision…”
So…I invited you to lunch to ask you if you can give me some tips…even a few…on the smartest way to make decisions…especially for my business…
No problem, after all lunch was on him…
How do you make decisions?
But I have to ask you…How do you make decisions? Are you like my friend? Do you hate making decisions…especially those that impact the people in your business?
Maybe it helps to know that there are so many other people just like you…
But I know it will help even more, if I were to give you my simple, easy 7-step decision making process, which you can follow to make smart business decisions that last…
Furthermore, when you have a simple, reliable decision-making process, you ensure that your business is flexible and adaptable, the #1 competitive advantage for small businesses.
So without any fuss and no drumrolls, here it is…
If you’re not clear what a skill is, in this post about 12 secret entrepreneurial skills, I share a definition which you can check out.
If you embrace decision-making as a skill, you will realise that like all skills, you can learn how to do it and get better at it with practice.
On the other hand, when you avoid making decisions you are behaving like an athlete who is not turning up for practice but expects to win the tournament. In this case, both you and your business will suffer if this is the approach you bring to decision-making.
So begin with the mindset that it is a skill.
First, let’s establish a definition for decision-making.
It is a key step in the wider process of problem-solving in your business. Very simply, it is really how you go about choosing between possible alternative solutions to a problem.
Therefore, to me, it is critical for you to be clear and to be sure, why you need or want to make decisions.
For instance, let’s say you need to buy a new vehicle and you have a problem making up your mind which one to buy.
The problem is, one of your best friend just bought the latest red, fancy sports car and you’re green with envy. So you decided to stretch your resources and buy a new car, very similar to the one your friend has.
As ridiculous as it may seem, accept that you bought that particular vehicle because you were envious of your friend.
In these circumstances, if you fool yourself that your motive for buying that vehicle was because your business needs a new vehicle, you might end up buying a Lamborghini to deliver vegetables.
Intuition, especially feminine intuition, can certainly inform the way you make decisions. But you must combine this with your business experience so that you make decisions that are right for your business.
Let’s face it. Our intuitions are sometimes wrapped up in our emotions. And if we are not in a good place emotionally our intuitions can be equally off.
For example, let’s say you want to borrow money from a bank. But instead of following the instructions the Loans Officer gave you to complete the documents, you decide to ignore them.
On the day of your appointment, you walk into the bank and with all the confidence in the world, you inform the Loans Officer that your intuition tells you that you will get the loan.
How do you think that will work out for you?
Incidentally, is this or some similar attitude your approach to getting finance for your business? Then your negotiation skills must be very strong.
What you really need to do is collect as much RELEVANT information as you can about the situation you want to make a decision about.
I am stressing “relevant” because if you collect any and every piece of information, you will need some help dealing with information overload. If you do, you will soon find out that this is not the ideal conditions for you to make the best decisions.
You will be wasting your time if you try to convince me of the following:
You’re past 25 years of age, you have started a business and you’re successfully making decisions and carrying them out, with no thought of the consequences.
If you think that you can make decisions in and for your business without first considering all the angles, trust me, you will not remain in business for very long.
Thinking of the consequences of your decisions is a big part of how you should make decisions.
So grab an old fashioned pen (one with ink) and a sheet of paper. Make 3 columns on the paper and head them up as follows “decision,” “positive consequences,” and “negative consequences.”
After you have written down the decision, consider as many of the positive and negative consequences as you can, and write these down as well. When you do this, you will be in a better position to make the right decision.
And most of the other formal, structured decision-making models. They are not quite right for your small businesses.
I can say this because I had to study several of them to pass many business courses. I also used them in another life when I worked for fairly big organisations. Consequently, I would be the first to admit, they work well for those situations.
However, when I went “live” in my small businesses, it was common sense, business experience and practical approaches like the one describe at #4 above, which helped me to make really good decisions.
As we like to say in our house: as decision-making goes in small businesses, decisions don’t grow on trees.
Deciding not to decide should have no part in any decision-making process in your business.
As an approach or a step, this is ever so much Bovine Feces! (BF) What if you have a crisis?
In the face of uncertainty you can delay your decision (not forever!) but deciding not to decide is outright procrastination.
Furthermore, it can be as habit-forming as making decisions.
To me, decision-making is a linear process it is not a loop.
When you have a decision to make, don’t keep going around in circles like a dog trying to catch his tail. This will leave you trying to catch YOUR tail, when your behaviour places your business in trouble.
And don’t try to run it by too many people either. Getting too many people involved will not necessary lead to a better decision. As a matter of fact, this could result in your not making a decision at all!
So when it’s time to make the decision…just make it!
The sooner you make the decision, the faster you can correct it, if it proves not to be the one that will work best for you.
How these decision-making steps work in practice
When you adopt and practice the 7 steps above, making decisions will become easier and faster for you and you will make smarter, lasting decisions.
I use them all the time.
For example, when my friend invited me to lunch, it might appear that I made that decision quickly. But here is how it went down:
My intuition told me he wanted something but because I know it’s hard to access his time, my motivation was not the food. (Steps 3 & 2)
I could not decide “not to decide” because I wanted to access his high-end clients, even though I know as a consequence, I would have to “burn the midnight oil” later. (Steps 6 & 4)
So very quickly, because I have lots of practice, I easily made the smart decision to have lunch with my friend. And I did not even use a decision tree! (Steps 7,1 & 5)
And I have no regrets!
You next “decision-making” steps
So there you have it…a simple, practical system you can use when you have to make decisions.
You can use it for simple or complex decision and even big and small ones.
Now that you have read this entire post, you now have a simple, practical approach to decision-making and NO excuse for procrastinating.
Let me remind you, simple as they may seem, these steps work, especially if you are inclined to procrastinate when you have to make decisions.
Take them and make them work for you. You business will grow and you will make a big impact!
Would this system make your decision for you? Not really, but you have the security of knowing that you have employed a process that could lead you to the right one…more times out of ten.
To your decision-making success…