Great leaders are, by definition, great decision-makers. That means, as an entrepreneur, you need to hone your decision-making skills so that you can choose the best route for your business with clear and decisive action. It doesn’t mean, however, that you have to be a natural born decision-maker.
In fact, some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have had to teach themselves how to quit being indecisive and start making important decisions on a short timeline. Fortunately, learning to be a better decision-maker isn’t that difficult. With a few practical steps, you can improve your decision-making in no time.
DO A QUICK COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS
Instead of going with your gut or putting off a decision, you can usually find the best option by doing a quick cost-benefit analysis. For example, let’s say that you have to decide whether or not to hire a paid intern for your business. In this case, your costs would be the intern’s wages and the time and resources spent in training.
Some benefits might be having a low-cost assistant who’ll take on more responsibilities as they learn about the business, learning how to build a more effective training program, or establishing a program to attract talented young employees before they graduate from college.
When you look at it this way, you can consider the choice to hire an intern as a simple math equation. If the cost is greater than the benefit, you shouldn’t do it—at least not yet.
THINK OF LONG-TERM EFFECTS
Decreasing the quality of the materials you use for your products might improve your profit margin now, but what will happen once customers realize that the products they’ve bought from you won’t hold up? This is a case where your initial cost-benefit analysis might lead you in the wrong direction if you don’t project the costs and benefits onto a longer timeline. Before making your final decision, consider if there are any long-term repercussions that could come with it. Then you can make a more informed choice.
If you’re deciding where to go for lunch or which of your brand colors to use for the napkins at an upcoming event, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time on your decision. Practice making small decisions quickly, and don’t waffle back and forth on them. In fact, these smaller decisions present you with an opportunity to delegate. Does the CEO really need to decide which napkins to buy for an event, or could that be a decision for someone in your marketing department?
If you practice making smaller decisions quickly or you delegate the responsibility for them to your employees, you’ll have more time to spend on the weightier decisions you have to make for your business. And the more you practice looking at each decision brought to you as a cost-benefit problem, the faster you’ll get at identifying costs and benefits so that you can choose the right option without delay.
As you follow these tips, keep in mind that procrastination won’t help you. If you have a big decision to make, start working on the process of choosing the best route right away. Procrastination now could lead to a last-minute gut decision that doesn’t take all of the relevant information into account. Start working on your decision-making skills now with these tips, and you’ll be better equipped to lead your business as it grows.
M. "Gonzo" Gonsalves
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