Whether you operate as a sole proprietor or you lead a multi-million dollar corporation, making business decisions is part of your everyday duties. The decisions you are faced with range from simple to complex, such as whether you should expand your business operations into a new market. In larger organizations, your employees and management team look to you to make the difficult decisions that impact everyone else. If you continuously procrastinate on making important decisions, people will lose respect for you. It can be stressful to be in a role of key decision-maker, but the tips described below can help you feel more confident about meeting your responsibilities.
While it's true that the people who report to you expect you to act as a leader, no one expects you to be perfect. Some business owners make the mistake of putting off announcing a decision or starting a project until the circumstances are just right. When you have faith in your own leadership abilities, you feel confident to make the leap without knowing all of the answers upfront. As long as you keep your team in the loop about what is going on, they will respect the way you have chosen to introduce projects or make major decisions for the business.
Everyone makes mistakes in business, even people in positions of leadership. When it happens to you, do your best to own up to it without becoming defensive. While you may feel momentarily embarrassed, you will garner more respect in the long run. Each time you make an important decision that turns out to be a mistake, decide to learn something from it and cut your losses. With the right frame of mind, mistakes can be valuable learning tools instead of humiliating failures.
Some business decisions are so important that you must seek input from other people. The problem is that you don't have the time to go through the formal channels of putting a committee together when you are dealing with a pressing business matter. This is the ideal time to show your leadership and gather together a few key people on your own. You should select people who have demonstrated good decision-making skills under pressure in the past. When you begin a brainstorming session, ask questions like "What are your thoughts on this?" rather than something vague like "What should we do?" Although both ask essentially the same thing, the first invites better replies because it is more open-ended.
When you are faced with a difficult decision, it sometimes becomes impossible for you to think about anything else. It becomes an obsession that can affect your work performance and even your personal life. You need to give yourself permission to banish it from your brain for awhile and focus on other things. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, remind yourself that you will come back to the decision to be made after you have had a bit of a break. What often ends up happening in this situation is that a solution suddenly comes to you when you aren't even thinking about the problem at hand.
Most people rely on logic to make an important business decision while completely dismissing the power of their own intuition. When you get a positive or negative feeling about something, it is often the result of how your unconscious mind processes thoughts, feelings and events. It often doesn't make logical sense. However, many people can attest to the fact that their intuition has never steered them wrong. If you have weighed all the facts and still can't come to a conclusive decision, pay attention to that small inner voice within that is telling you which way to go.
When you are faced with several decisions at the same time, you must be able to prioritize them. As the leader of your organization, you have the final say on what is the most important. Others may try to pressure you with your own agenda, but you are under no obligation to cave into it.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, jot down all of the decision you need to make on piece of paper or a spreadsheet. Next, put a number next to each item on your list according to how soon it must be done and its overall impact on your company. Lastly, decide what you need to do each day until you get to the point of crossing every item off your list. You may find that you have to make room for more important tasks and decisions as they come along and bump others further down your to-do list.
One of the reasons that you may be having difficulty making a decision is that it is simply out of your league. For example, assume that you are trying to set up a profit-sharing plan for employees and you don't have the first clue how to go about it. Instead of plowing ahead with your idea and getting frustrated, reach out to someone who has more expertise in the matter than you do. It could be the benefits administrator at your own company or you may need to work with someone outside of your organization. Once you have gotten expert advice, you should feel more confident about what you need to do to accomplish the task.
It is easy to feel completely overwhelmed when you have to make important decisions day after day. Pretty soon you may be feeling so stressed that you forget to smile and have fun once in awhile. It is important to schedule some downtime for yourself and to leave work behind at the end of the day. When you lead a balanced life, it allows you to give your entire focus to decision-making and other leadership tasks at the appropriate times.