Making better business decisions

Al Sisto

Blog by: Al Sisto - 8 / Feb / 2017

Whether a start-up or multi-national, organisations of all sizes face the constant challenge of making reliable, consistent and faster decisions to stay ahead of the competition and adapt to changing industry dynamics.

Sometimes, the methods we use to make decisions create additional challenges from the start. Here are a few ways to ensure you make well-informed decisions…

Learn to live with uncertainty

No amount of data and research can completely eliminate the doubt about what’s going to happen. Almost all of forecasting is using the past, or sample data, to predict the future. Remember that decisions are based on probability. Don’t wait for absolute certainty because you’ll almost never get it and delaying a decision can sometimes be more damaging than making the wrong one. Work for the educated guess and make your guesses as educated as you possibly can.

Accept not every decision is yours to make

In the early days of a startup, everybody shares decisions. As a business grows, by necessity, it develops departmental expertise. If you’re doing your recruitment well then you’ll have surrounded yourself with functional experts who really do know more about their subject areas than you. So, let the marketing people decide the colours for the packaging, and the finance people decide how to fund working capital. And you as the owner, ultimately, have to decide strategy.

Take a break

When faced with a tough decision, step away from your desk and take time to collect your thoughts and reflect. Give yourself time to go for a run, take the dog for a walk or even have a nap – whatever allows you to refocus on the big picture. This will ensure you’re in the right frame of mind to make a difficult decision.

Separate your emotions

When tensions and emotions are inevitably running high, don’t react impulsively. Weigh the pros and cons, and ultimately consider the long-term effects of a decision. Sometimes the right thing to do is do change a course of action that will cost your company thousands of pounds. At one point in my career I had to scrap a multi-million pound research project, as it simply wasn’t getting the results we needed. It was a tough decision as the team had invested so much time, energy and emotion into the project, but the bottom line was, it wasn’t good enough and never would be.

Commit to a decision

Once you set on a decision, own it. See it through and if it happens to have been a mistake, keep moving forward and take the appropriate steps to correct your course. Not every decision will be perfect. But at the end of the day, all you can do is make the most well informed choice given the data and information you have at your fingertips.  

 

Topics: strategy, business decisions

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