You, Smarter: 4 Ways to Make Better Decisions

by Brian Carey on September 25, 2013
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Let’s face it, we all make bad decisions from time to time. This is especially true of small-business owners, who are often required to learn on the fly and make split-second decisions. Who isn’t going to make a few errors in judgment in those situations? It’s human nature.

However, you can help yourself make smarter choices by doing these four things:

1. Trust your instincts. Entrepreneurs generally possess a certain degree of life and business experience. As a result, you may intuitively know the best course of action in any given circumstance. So, don’t second-guess yourself, because frequently your first decision is the right one. When you find yourself in doubt, ask why — and consider whether you could have a little more faith in your own expertise.

2. Avoid analysis paralysis. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in all of the factors that go into making decisions that you get stuck analyzing the details rather than calling the shots. In these instances, remember that less is more. To avoid analysis paralysis, psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer suggests that you “take the best” — and forget the rest.

The Daily Beast neatly sums up this technique: “Reason and calculate only as much as you absolutely have to, then stop and do something else. So, for example, if there are 10 pieces of information that you might weigh in a thorough decision, but one piece of information is clearly more important than the others, then that one piece of information is often enough to make a choice. You don’t need the rest; other details just complicate things and waste time.”

3. Fix the problem, not the symptom. For example, if sales of a particular product are down, find out why before you take steps to address the issue. Is it because of insufficient marketing? Poor management? Dwindling demand? Deciding to spend more money promoting a product when, really, a lack of internal oversight is causing its revenues to dip will only make matters worse. Instead of treating general symptoms, determine the root problem first and then pursue an appropriate solution.

4. Brainstorm. Whether they’re employees or mentors, you have a team of competent, qualified people helping you with your business, right? When you need to make a big decision, convene a meeting and brainstorm ways to take action. The input provided by members of your support network is likely to reflect different perspectives and diverse experiences. Being able to see an issue from various viewpoints will help you make a wise decision.

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