Making smart decisions for your small business is an acquired skill. Both new and established small business owners are having to make more decisions than ever. What’s more, many of these decisions are critical to the survival of their business.
If you’re not a natural decision maker, fear not. Anyone can learn to make smart decisions.
Making Decisions Is a Process
All good decision makers know that there are proper steps to making wise decisions. (Although you can make a great spur of the moment decision once in a while, they are probably more the exception than the rule.) The best decisions are usually carefully considered and deliberately made.
1. Understand the decision. Take the time to flush out all of the specifics of the decision at hand. What’s at stake? Is there a time deadline? Are other people involved? What happens if no decision is made? The more you know about the decision, the better position you will be in to make it.
2. Decide your ultimate goal. Determine what you would like to be accomplished by this decision. For example, do you want to grow your business? Do you want to cut overhead? Think both short-term and long-term.
3. Research all options. Brainstorm all possible choices and flush out the pros and cons. Consider the implications of each choice. Gather as much information as possible on all of the options before you. Look for multiple sources. Often people put too much faith in a single source when that source could be wrong.
4. Keep records. Write down all the information from your research and keep track of your thought process so you have a record of how you came to your decision in case you need to go back to it later.
5. Get input from those you trust. Discussing the decision with employees, mentors, friends, relatives and others may yield additional options and points of view you didn’t consider. Keep an open mind when listening to the opinion of others, but remember that everyone may not share your same values. Try to discuss the decision impartially while recognizing that the views of others may not be impartial. Never replace your own judgment with someone else’s.
6. Predict the future. Make your best educated guesses about what outcomes each of your potential decisions will produce. Use your research and trusted opinions. Do you have a gut reaction to this decision? Don’t discount it.
7. Narrow down the list of options. Eliminate any options that are not likely to generate your desired outcome. If possible, rank your options by likelihood of success.
8. Decide how the decision will be made. If the decision affects a group, will you make the decision for the group or will you seek a consensus? Will you leave it up to a vote?
9. Pull the trigger. In other words, make the decision and put it in action. Once you’ve given the decision proper consideration, you have to just go ahead and choose. Indecision is often the worst decision of all.
10. Follow up. Did you get the outcome you expected? Do you need to make some changes? If things don’t turn out the way you predicted, start the decision making process over again. If at first you don’t succeed…
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