One of the most expensive parts of running your own business might surprise you.
It’s not your email marketing service.
Or hiring a pro to design your website.
Or bouncing back after a flopped launch.
Often, the most expensive part of running your business boils down to this:
Burning away days by waffling about the pixels in your logo or obsessively researching the best platform for your e-course or agonizing over what to write about on your blog can be very expensive when you consider the high cost of delay and bloat.
Delayed ideas can result in missed opportunities to make your business more visible and cross paths with potential customers.
Bloated ideas can end up feeling so enormous and complicated, that bringing them across the finish line often unravels into expensive, drama-soaked exhaust-a-thons.
Making swift and confident decisions is a great way to improve one of the most important areas of your business...efficiency.
Our culture is wired for indecision.
In his book How We Decide author Jonah Lehrer states:
The modern marketplace is a conspiracy to confuse, to trick the mind into believing that our most banal choices are actually extremely significant.
When we’re culturally conditioned to think tiny decisions (like what we floss our teeth with) is super important (and confusing), is it any wonder we create expensive delays in our businesses by hemming and hawing over the angle of a swoop in our logo or the precise width of the sidebar on our blog?
You can't avoid risk (and succeed).
When you’re a new entrepreneur—especially one that enjoyed a regular payday prior to starting your own gig—one of the hardest things to get comfy with is risk and commitment.
In the early days of setting up a business everything feels like a risk and many new entrepreneurs flail about in their decisions because they want to make perfect choices with minimal risk. Plus they want their choices to be easy to commit to after they’ve crossed the Rubicon.
You cannot allow yourself to wallow in this place on inaction if you want to succeed with your business.
According to Barrett Brooks of Fizzle:
People who make progress in their businesses week after week have something in common: they feel the same fears and hesitations...then they choose anyways.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Growing my business has involved getting comfortable with discomfort. It’s also exercised my ability to quickly calculate risks and decide which outcomes I can realistically commit to.
Sometimes I make choices with my business that work—like bringing my husband on as a full-time business partner. And other times I make choices that don’t—like the time I spent $1700 on Google Adwords and got zip in return.
I made a decision that cost me $1700. Expensive? Yes. The end of the world? No. It was a calculated risk. I learned a big lesson and moved on.
Down-to-earth tips to become a better decision maker for your business:
Avoid decision fatigue by simplifying your day.
According to social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, mental energy is finite and can be exhausted.
It’s why Steve Jobs wore his signature black turtleneck and jeans.
And why President Obama always wears the same suits.
If you want to get more effective at making decisions in your business, try minimizing the amount of friction in your day so you can reserve your decision making ability for what truly matters.
A great way to do this is plan your day ahead of time. Spend some time today, organizing tomorrow’s game plan. That way you won't waste time dawdling, procrastinating, and wondering what to work on when you sit down to your desk in the morning. Many decisions will have already been made.
I do this from week to week and month to month as well.
Keep a healthy sense of perspective.
When you give your decisions an inflated amount of importance, you give yourself an inflated amount of stress.
A question I ask myself often is, “How important is this, really?”
Pausing into that moment helps me adjust my perspective into healthy parameters fairly quickly.
Stop thinking right and wrong. Instead think right or left.
I’m not advocating making reckless or impulsive decisions for the sake of deciding. Again, I believe every decision involves a quick calculation of the risks. But once you have a good sense of the importance of your decision and the possible outcomes, assure yourself there is no wrong choice—simply one that will take you right and one that will take you left. If you decide to take a few steps in one direction and discover it’s not working out, simply course correct and keep going.
If it’s really hard to decide, pretend the decision’s already been made.
I use this exercise with clients quite often. I’ll instruct my client to close her eyes and imagine the decision’s been made. I’ll ask her to envision herself on the other side of CHOICE A.
What is she doing?
How is she feeling?
Does she like what she’s doing and feeling?
Then we’ll do the same exercise with CHOICE B.
One choice always feels more expansive (even if it’s just a little). The expansive choice is often the right choice.
Avoid crowd-sourcing your decisions from people who aren’t potential customers.
Fifteen random people in a Facebook group will have fifteen different opinions that are subjective. Furthermore, if that Facebook group is filled with colleagues who’ll never spend a dime with you (because they offer similar services), you’ve wasted time testing an idea with the wrong people. To top it off, you’ll probably feel very confused about how to proceed anyway—because what can you really do with a collection of random opinions from people who aren’t your ideal clients?
Test your ideas with the right people.
Testing your ideas with potential customers can definitely help bring things into focus. It’s good know what appeals to people who spend money on what you offer. But passing around your new logo at a family reunion to get a feel for what people think? Not very helpful.
Seek advice from a professional with actual experience.
One way to increase your risk of making poor decisions (and decrease your decision making confidence) is to take advice from people who are theorists.
I was on the phone with a client recently and she was waffling about a decision she’d already made because her friend suggested this instead. And then her friend suggested that. And her friend thought this, this, and this.
My poor client was so confused because she was considering changing her mind and spending more money than she needed to on her e-mail service provider.
Her friend meant well, but was sharing opinions based on things she'd read, but didn't have actual experience with.
Consider the source of the guidance you’re hearing and keep a healthy sense of skepticism. It’s good to question things; and it’s helpful to run advised input through a BS filter, especially when you’re gathering information to help you make a decision.
Give yourself space.
Non-stop analysis of a decision to the point of obsession is emotionally and physically exhausting. If you really cannot make a decision, be honest with yourself about why.
If you can’t decide because you’re scared you’ll make the wrong choice, go back to all the other tips on this list. But, on the other hand, you can’t decide because none of the options actually feel good right now, give yourself permission to table it and move on.
I did this with an idea I had last year, The Soulfulpreneur Club. I thought I’d brought this idea into focus, but when it came to committing to the work, it didn’t feel good.
I felt like a flake scrapping the idea as I’d made a public announcement about the upcoming Soulfulpreneur Club and I had a list of people very interested in participating.
But I needed space. Space to adjust to the new dynamics in my business with my husband coming into the fold, and space to let the idea marinate a bit more. I gave myself permission to create space around the idea, which was a very good decision as it freed my energy and focus for other things in Simple & Soulful Creative that I’m loving right now.
Think of marketing as an experiment instead of an exact mathematical formula.
The beauty of having a Squarespace website is it's easily adjustable and changeable. You can try things out, gather some data from your results, make a few tweaks, and try again based on what you learned.
Remember how quickly we completely revamped our site a couple months ago? It rolled out so easily due in large part to the flexibility of the Squarespace platform.
When you think your decisions lock you in until the end of eternity you'll most certainly feel more anxiety about making a choice.
This is a hang up I see many new entrepreneurs struggle with in the early days of setting up shop. They haven't worked with enough clients to feel 100% certain of their niche or offers and feel really stressed out about making, essentially, the right guesses. (P.S. I believe niche clarity is a process that unfolds with experience. Here's a worksheet to help).
My advice is to relax and get out there. The faster you start making decisions that lead to actually working with people, the easier it will be to bring various aspects of your business into focus.
With flexible business tools (like a Squarespace website), you can make efficient decisions and course correct as you learn.
I hope today’s post helps you understand the cost of indecision in your business and what you can do about it.
I also hope it helps you make simpler, faster, more efficient decisions about every aspect of running and growing your business!
And if you'd like personalized help making decisions for your business, copy, branding, or website, we're here for you!
Do you have a go-to strategy for making decisions? I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to email me directly or leave your thoughts in the comments below!