It's true that the only constant in life is change, and as we adapt and react to it we often have to make tough decisions. Sometimes the choices we make will adversely affect people we care about, slow the progress of causes we have a passion for, or stem the tide of personal financial increase. Making tough decisions requires unique strength, and the ability to weather the consequences of those decisions is a mark of true endurance and perseverance.
How do you face and make tough decisions? Business owners make tough decisions on a fairly regular basis. Some are more tough than others.
1. Separate yourself from the issue. In business, it is important to remind yourself to look at a situation objectively and work from the most unbiased standpoint possible. We can easily rationalize what we do when it will save us grief. But when we eliminate our personal emotional involvement, we may discover that the situation takes on a whole new light. Depending on the weight of the situation, I would also recommend removing yourself physically. Take a day or two away. Step out of the everyday, regain your perspective, and make a decision that makes sense whether you are in the trenches or not.
2. Make sure you're focussing on the important factors. This might sound redundant, but just because you've separated yourself from the issue doesn't mean you've appropriately prioritized what is truly important in this decision-making process. Try to nail it down to three utterly imperative factors that must be taken into account. And make sure those factors are really the ones that are most important. One way to do this is to match them against steps and processes essential to your business success. Are these factors the weighty ones that will help or hinder your company from achieving its goals? If not, it might be time right now to re-evaluate how much time you've spent already on this decision.
3. Evaluate possible repercussions. No one can effectively predict the future, but it's invaluable to look ahead and try to determine to the greatest extent possible how your decision will reverberate through your business. Consider both the positive and negative probabilities and possibilities. If you're leaning towards a choice with a number of negative consequences, now is a good time to consider how you will counter those effects and how much they may impact your productivity, business strategy, and ultimately, your success.
4. Take as much time as you need. Tough decisions shouldn't be made easily. Whether it takes you two hours, two days or two weeks to weigh in the factors that need to be considered, take the time to do it. You are the business owner - take as much time as you feel you need to make a good decision. But be careful - don't use the "I need more time" feeling as an excuse to procrastinate. You can only dedicate your time to one god - either Idleness or Productivity. Take the time you need, but take no more than what you need.
5. When the choice becomes clear, make the decision. It's that simple. When the door opens, walk through it. Don't hesitate, second-guess, or procrastinate. It will only cloud your judgment, tempt you to rationalize what shouldn't be rationalized, and draw out a situation that doesn't need time to become more complicated. When the way becomes clear, follow the path.
6. Make a plan. A plan for execution and fallout clean-up of this decision. Maybe it's simple and maybe it isn't. But after the consideration you've given this issue, be sure you consider how to effectively implement that decision and handle all the adjacent side effects. Write it down.
7. Don't look back. When you walk through that door, don't forget to close it behind you. You gave that decision all it required - adequate perspective, weighing in of the important factors and consequences, and time to make sure you'd considered everything appropriately. You made the decision to the best of your ability. Now man up, move forward, and take whatever the fallout is in stride. You made a good decision.
Our economic climate is demanding more and more people to make tough decisions. Are you prepared to face those decisions? As business owners we are concerned with success - both our success and the success of our families and communities. There's no lack of wealth in our system, but the distribution and redistribution systems of that wealth are changing. The value of commodities is shifting and worth is being determined by altering standards. In this kind of uncertain environment, people withdraw into personal circles of security. Loyalties diminish as each individual struggles to find their niche, meet obligations, or simply survive. Trust becomes more scarce as each person seeks to find a way for themselves amidst these fluctuations. As a business owner, you are going to need to make some tough decisions. Take time now to prepare to handle them.