Decision-making tips for small business

Young unsure man is making decision. Strategy and choice concept.

Decisions drive our business. So, how can we make more courageous ones?

The below suggestions may give us the depth of a much larger organisation – for a fraction of the price.

1. Minimise decision making

We operate in an always-connected, 24-hour world. Decision fatigue is real. Some sources suggest we make up to 35,000 decisions a day. Sounds like a big number? On food choices alone we make over 220 decisions every day. Apart from this, determining not to do something is also a decision (as we must first evaluate it). Add to this the fact that successful business leaders often need to evaluate all the available options, which is also known to elevate stress.

Challenge #1:

Try one of the four options below. Reduce the complexity around your decision making. (HINT: your current finances and capacity may inform your best choice):

  • Automate: Introduce technology to remove the mundane – from improving your email filters to introducing a wide-scale technical solution.
  • Delegate (internal): Pass repetitive task(s) to an existing team member, or create a new position for that purpose.
  • Outsource (external): Engage a Virtual Assistant, or even contract in the expertise.
  • Expand your “Personal Board of Directors”: This will enhance your ability to make courageous decisions. Informally, have a coffee with a trusted colleague to explore your thoughts. Formally, engage a coach or mentor.

2. Create routines

Routine delivers many benefits. These include efficiency, resilience, and prioritisation. Establishing a routine helps us introduce healthy habits and break poor ones.

Routine will also allow us to replenish our energy. Decision fatigue (overuse) results in decisions that don’t introduce changes. For years this has been evident in manufacturing, the court system, and politics. Now even surgeons are unlikely to go outside the status quo and schedule surgery when it is late in their shift.

Finally, such fatigue can also cross into our home life. This is a difficulty to which we small business owners are very susceptible.

Challenge #2:

Develop a way to create or improve your routine. Spend a few minutes before bed jotting down the things you need to first attend to the following morning. Or, create your day/week in more detail, using some of the automation tools discussed above. Include food breaks and rest/mindfulness activities. This will increase the chances of you doing them.

3. Take advantage of the “Butterfly Effect”

Many actions we choose to take can give us advantages in other areas. For example, exercise impacts resilience, creativity, and productivity. Most adults should aim for an average of seven to nine hours’ sleep per night – a challenging task for a small-business owner, and often requiring a strict routine if seeking to “catch-up”. Smart food choices improve our cognition, focus, and problem-solving abilities. Finally, our physical environment impacts us in the same way teams can (Some are toxic. Some are beneficial).

Challenge #3:

Pick one choice from the list below, and introduce it to your routine for 30 days. What difference does it make for your business?

  • Exercise: Try an exercise you’ve always wanted to try. Or revisit your favourite sport/activity from childhood.
  • Sleep: Aim for a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. Keep a record of your sleep patterns. Set down specific nights (in advance) to make up for any lost sleep.
  • Food: Cut out a fast food meal. Or introduce a healthier alternative for a poor one.
  • Environment: Minimise distraction. Declutter. Harness the benefits of natural spaces.

Mark Mudford, Mentor and Business and Leadership Coach