Decision making in business

    LAUREN KRESS, THE BUSINESS SCIENTIST®

    To kick off the first episode for my new Monday segment Monday Mindset we're talking about decision making in business to help you figure out your next best step.

    In this episode I'll take you through:

    1) The decision making challenges entrepreneurs face

    2) The 5 styles of decision making

    3) The 7-step decision making process

    4) 3 more decision making models

    5) Goal-setting and how to set SMART goals in your business

    If you prefer to read and watch rather than listen - keep scrolling down for my walk through of each of these ideas in today's blog post.

    The decision making challenges we face

    In 2020 there were some unique challenges we faced as entrepreneurs and business owners but as the year dawns on 2021 I want to focus on the common global challenges we face as entrepreneurs (and humans!) when it comes to decision making in business.

    Challenge 1: Idealistic to a fault

    As visionaries, creatives and deep thinkers who are open to ideas that disrupt the status quo we can get pretty dedicated to our work.

    Many of us are prepared to work long hours to bring about the change we want to see in the world and we can have a hard time with creating a sustainable way of life for ourselves and the people who come along for the ride with us.

    An unsustainable way of life isn't the only problem of being too idealistic. It can also be what stops us from facing our problems head on.

    The results from a 2014 study by the CT corporation revealed that whilst there is a strong desire amongst many millennials to start and grow a business, many felt they wouldn't in fact be capable of successfully launching a business.

    This study was discussed in a Bplans article: The millennial entrepreneur: Idealistic or realistic? highlighting how we may indeed be getting in our own way when it comes to getting our business off the ground.

    I've witnessed this numerous times and have fallen into this trap myself because it is in the pursuit of perfection we sacrifice momentum. Instead of moving forward, failing and learning in the process we get stuck, we procrastinate, we over plan and we give up before we've even really begun.

    Below is the infographic put together by Bplans highlighting the aspirations, barriers and attitudes of millennials towards entrepreneurship.

    Challenge 2: Unrealistic expectations

    When we are too idealistic we will set unrealistic expectations about what it is we should accomplish.

    For instance we might say to ourselves "we want to be the number 1 online destination for customers looking for <insert solution we provide> 3 months from launching."

    But the thing is...why would we think this is possible? What reason do we have to set this goal for ourselves?

    Challenge 3: Ambivalence in decision making

    We've all experienced that desire to have our cake and eat it too.

    When we're unclear about the direction where heading in we can outline conflicting objectives that simply cannot co-exist together.

    I heard a great one from a family member just this week, our conversation went something like this:

    Them: "Lauren it's raining, so I want to hang out but I don't want to be stuck inside"

    Me: "Ok, how about we go for a walk around the park and get a coffee then?"

    Them: "No, but I don't want to be outside because it's raining"

    Me: "Ok, well how about you come over to mine for a tea?"

    Them: "No, I'm so sick of being in the house, I don't want to be stuck inside doing nothing"

    It sounds crazy right? But from time-to-time we all do this. And when things get more nuanced and complicated like they so often do in business, it can be trickier to spot.

    Here's a common discussion I have with prospects:

    Them: "Since we started our business 5 years ago, we've pretty much solely relied on sales activities to grow our business. Whilst we have predictable revenue, we are not seeing year-on-year growth."

    Me: "Yes, mathematically speaking this makes sense and is a common problem. What we need to focus on now is adding brand building activities to grow your reputation in market"

    Them: "Yes, this is exactly what we want to do."

    Me: "Ok great. It will take at least 6 months before we start to see a strong and reliable return on investment on brand-building activities, but from there, brand & business science tells us that you'll start to see that these activities will become the primary driver for growth in your business."

    Them: "So what will happen in the first 3 months?"

    Me: "The first 3 months we'll be focusing on brand building activities like...<Outline brand building plan & associated fees>"

    Them: "Ok so, what revenue and leads will I generate from these activities in the first 3 months?"

    Me: "Your sales activities will generate leads in those 3 months as it won't be long enough for brand building activities to start generating predictable results."

    Them: "Ok, I think we need to just focus on sales activities for now, as we really need to generate more income over the next 3 months."

    Me: "But isn't that the same as what you've been doing for the past 5 years?"

    Challenge 4: The perfect solution fallacy

    If you're getting quote after quote after quote but not committing to implementing a solution then chances are you're probably searching for something that doesn't exist: the perfect solution.

    The quest for a silver bullet is so common in business that many business service providers will use the fallacy to their advantage - ie. they present their solution as THE solution to ALL of our business problems and reinforce our belief in the silver bullet in order to make a sale.

    Or, to put it another way - they overpromise and underdeliver.

    As you can probably guess, that's a great way to get new clients through your door, but it creates a whole heap of problems downstream when clients are delivered a solution that feels unsatisfactory. Even if the solution is a good or great one, customers may feel disappointed because the expectation is for perfection, not "good" or "great".

    Now that we've discussed some of the common challenges we face, let's talk about strategies to overcome them.

    The 5 styles of decision making

    It's important for us to understand the styles of decision making we currently use and other types of decision making that can be more helpful in empowering us to grow our brand and business.

    In the whiteboard video below I'll take you through the two styles that are most beneficial to us - the rational style and the intuitive style of decision making.

    I'll also talk you through the 3 other types of decision making that we use but get in the way of us making our best and most informed decision. These are dependent, avoidant and spontaneous decision making.

    Which different styles of decision making do you rely on? What styles of decision making would you like to be able to use more of?

    Decision Making Models

    Before we start making decisions it's important that we take some time to get clear on the problem we're trying to solve and the realistic outcomes we can expect to achieve. 

    In business, we can't set realistic expectations if we don't understand what's happening in our market.

    In order to do so we need to think about who our key stakeholders are and what the attitudes and behaviours are for each of our stakeholders. If you want to learn more about key stakeholder mapping check out this article on how to build a key stakeholder map.

    There's a free key stakeholder map template you can access too.

    Once you have completed your stakeholder map and understand more about your market, it's time to take a scientific approach to problem-solving in your business.

    If you're wondering what a scientific approach to business problem-solving and decision making looks like, check out my article and short video: What is business science?

    Another problem-solving tool you may find useful is the 7-steps of decision making which I outline below. These 7 steps are:

    1) Clarify & define the problem

    2) Establish realistic goals (I like to use the SMART goals framework for this)

    3) Generate solutions (ie. brainstorm your options)

    4) Evaluate & compare solutions (what are the pros and cons?)

    5) Decide on the feasible & appropriate solution

    6) Implement the solution (make sure you take action!)

    7) Evaluate the outcome (how did it go?)

    You may note that there are some interesting similarities between this and the scientific framework.

    3. Draw a line in the sand

    The question we need to ask ourselves when we are getting stuck in a circular pattern of ambivalence is - "am I ready to draw a line in the sand and declare that what we've been doing isn't serving us?"

    4. Do things worse than perfect

    "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly"

    - G. K. Chesterton

    The success we envision for our business doesn't happen overnight and it also rarely happens from "grand gestures of change".

    Many of us at the beginning of the year will set ourselves up for failure as we make our new year resolutions. Within days of making these resolutions we fall short of the promises and commitments we made.

    In fact as noted by Forbes, after just 30 days only 8% of people who have made new year resolutions are accomplishing them.

    What science tells us is that achieving success isn't about will power and discipline, it's about changing the way we think about ourselves and having a system that allows us to become that person.

    In other words it is about building and maintaining the habits that allow you to live in accordance with your identity and values.

    This is why having a clear idea of who you are and what you stand for as a person and a business is so important to following through to do the work.

    And this is where your brand strategy starts. If you'd like to learn more about brand strategy and you aren't yet a regular listener to my podcast show, I recommend checking out this episode from season 1: Defining your brand purpose.

    Building and maintaining these habits is not about perfection, it is about showing up.

    As James Clear explains in his best-selling book Atomic habits: “Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”

    “Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”

    - James Clear

    If you'd like to learn more about decision making in business and other business & entrepreneurship topics, you can join my newsletter here, access more podcast episodes here or subscribe to my youtube channel here.

    Ps. The links I refer to in the podcast episode are:

    1) The Neuroscience of Intuition with Brian Fretwell

    2) Ep. 1 of Season 4: How to be consistent and win more clients

    3) My Youtube video on 16 Personalities Myers Briggs personality assessment and how to interpret your results

    4) For regular listeners, please consider supporting me and the work I do to put this show together on ko-fi here.

    5) Find me on twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenkress89

    Ps. Yes! I do offer 1-on-1 business coaching and consulting to help you grow your brand and business, but I only take on a few clients at a time. To find out if I'm available right now or to go on my waiting list for future coaching opportunities send me a message directly on LinkedIn.

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    In the spirit of reconciliation I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. I pay my respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living and working on the land.

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