The art of making successful decisions

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A guide to finding the sweet spot between applying your own entrepreneurial intuition and taking advice when making decisions

Being a small business owner calls for endless decision-making – both big and small. Here we provide advice on how to hit the sweet spot between relying on the power of your own intuition and knowing when to listen to others.

The intuitive voice in your head – telling you to do it your way VS the cautious voice saying listen to advice

Often you have a little voice saying, go with your intuition and apply instinctive gut-feel, be entrepreneurial and just do it.

Intuition can be powerful and effective. Richard Branson has described this as that ‘tingle’, that can lead to successful entrepreneurial decision-making.  We know that intuition is not a flimsy, spur-of-the-moment thing.  It’s something that is grounded in the entrepreneur’s past experience. 

This intuitive voice encourages entrepreneurs to put aside overly cautious bureaucratic-style advice and go with their gut and creativity.

But often there is another voice saying, be cautious, don’t be too hasty. Sometimes it does pay to follow the herd – others might just know what they are doing.

Decision-making is never simple.  So, although there are many situations where this ‘just go for it’ spirit wins the day, there are other times where this can end in disaster! 

This is telling us that intuitive decision-making is not a straightforward slam dunk way of always making successful decisions. It may be the first reflex of many entrepreneurs, but it often needs tempering with advice from others.

You need to recognise that there is value in taking time out to consult a ‘sounding board’, listen to others and get more information. It’s about cultivating ‘informed’ intuition.

How to arrive at the point of informed, intuitive decision-making

In finding the sweet spot between intuition and taking advice, one way to reconcile the often two contradictory voices in your head is to think of arriving at what we might think of as the point of informed intuition?  

On the one hand you are listening to your entrepreneurial gut instincts, but on the other hand you are sensible enough when required to take in expert advice. Here are three ideas on how to arrive at this sweet spot.

One: Change your angle of thinking

One route to informed intuitive decision-making is to step back and look in at the problem from the ‘third corner’. A lot of poor decision-making results from inside-out thinking - where the decision is made solely from the perspective of your own processes and systems. Instead, take the outside-in perspective. Look back in at the issue from the perspective of an outsider and let this inform your decision.

You might want to enhance this process by seeking out a ‘critical friend’ to act as a sounding board and take them through your thinking.

Remember the saying, however thin you slice it, there are always two sides.  

Two: Make an appointment with yourself to think accurately about key decisions

Another way of avoiding rushing headlong into an overly emotional decision, or a torturous pedantic rational decision, is to set up an ‘appointment’ with yourself to give yourself some quality time and space for clear deep thinking.

Set aside a period of time, when you will be free from interruptions and distractions, to closely review the pros and cons of making a particular decision.

Three: Take any overly emotional feeling out of the decision – opt for a ‘Choice Moment’

Another idea for hitting the sweet spot is to pause – and think ‘choice moment’ -before you react in response to a situation. Use this pause to reflect on the options open to you with your next response or action. This will allow you to choose a response – make a decision - that will help you best achieve your business goals.

Buying that few seconds of extra time can help you improve your decision-making. Let’s explain how this process works:

When faced with a decision it is important to create time and space between the stimulus (cause) and your reaction (the effect) of that stimulus. If you react immediately or over emotionally, it could have a negative counter-productive effect.

This takes us to the idea of there being a choice moment – a time out period - in which you can avoid over-reaction.

Let's break down the sequence of events in a typical situation:

  • There is the initial cause or stimulus.
  • At this point you could make a hasty emotional response leading to an unhelpful outcome.
  • The alternative is to seize a moment to review the possible reactions and options open to you.
  • This leads to your choice moment where you need to decide what action will provide you and others with the best outcomes.

We hope you have found this blog on arriving at the decision-making sweet spot helpful.

At the Entrepreneur Mindset we are dedicated to helping small business owners make the right decisions. Our new online programme - Entrepreneur Mindset: Breakthrough as an Entrepreneur - can help you cultivate the entrepreneur’s mindset – acquire the self-belief, confidence and knowledge you need to build a successful business. Find out more here>>

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