An entrepreneur is a decision making machine. Yes, they’re good at networking, good at spotting the next big trend, and good devising solutions to problems people haven’t even thought of yet, but what everything about the founder’s tool set comes down to is good decision making. If you want to succeed in business, you need the clarity to identify exactly what the challenge is facing you at the given moment, identify what resources you have at your disposal, and the ability to decide quickly how to deploy those resources to meet the challenge; to solve the problem; to win over the client; to, in any situation, drive your business to success rather than allow it to succumb to failure.
It’s a difficult skill to acquire. In the early days of a business, when resources are stretched and you need quick wins, you can’t afford to fail once. One botched pitch, one delayed delivery could spell disaster. When you’re trying to get established, there’s no term but short term, and learning to make decisions under pressure in the short term is not a recipe for success as you mature.
You need to remember just how important data is to your decision making process. You need data gathered on the capacity and ability of your own teams, so you know exactly how much your people can achieve when you need to push them, and data on your customers! That sounds sinister, but it’s really the most basic information you need: how do your customers behave in your store, on your website? When do they spend money and what stops them? You need to know, or you could be missing out on a whole chunk of revenue simply because people can’t find the product they want. You also need to know where you sit with your competitors. Brand tracking shows you what people think of your business, and others in your industry, so you can work out if you have an image problem and how to fix it!
This is a difficult balance to strike. Confidence in your abilities and judgements and the courage of your convictions is vital. If you didn’t think you have the ability to succeed you’d never have got as far as you have – it’s a vital motivator! But too many entrepreneurs trip up on their confidence.
If you’re not careful it can become arrogance, and if you arrogantly assume you know best and you can do no wrong, it’ll soon come back to bite you. Even if your business thrives, an arrogant, overbearingly confident attitude will drive your closest employees away.
Make sure you listen: listen to other people’s ideas and insights, their doubts about your plans, and above all listen to data! If someone is telling you your decision is bad, at least give them a fair hearing, rather than plugging your ears and ploughing blindly ahead. At worst, you hear a different perspective that you don’t agree with. At best, you avoid a major mistake!