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Real Edge

It’s 2024 – Make that decision

As business owners we all tend to procrastinate over decisions in our business, because it feels safer than actually making a decision and moving forward. Unfortunately I think this type of entrepreneur paralysis has increased in the last 10-15 years due to the exhaustive amount of information available on the internet. Procrastination often feels safe – but it’s not. It’s been shown time and time again, that one way to guarantee the slow death of a business is for leaders to avoid making decisions.

Making the decision is almost always the right decision.  I’ve outlined 6 key reasons why.

1. Get it off your plate- free up your mental energy

You have a major decision which you know needs to be made. You may have discussed it with your key staff, or friends and family, and even had some good heated dialogue over a number of weeks (maybe months), but you continue to procrastinate. Obsessively deliberating on which path to take. You need to weigh everything up, make a decision, and then move forward. 

Arguably the greatest benefit of making a decision, is that you no longer need to expend mental energy on it – it’s a ‘weight off your mind’. You can move on to other things, and remove the stress and your own internal conflict that procrastination causes. And if you’re not ready to make a decision, make a date in the future when you will make the decision, and put it in your calendar. At least then it’s out of your head, freeing up important mental space for other things.

Making the decision — any decision — will reduce your anxiety and let you move forward. The best antidote to feeling overwhelmed is forward momentum.

2. The cost of procrastination

The financial cost of procrastination by owners and senior managers to a business has been estimated by many, with most ‘experts’ agreeing that it is the biggest invisible cost to a business. 

Apart from the real financial costs of procrastinating and creative avoidance, staff appreciate a leader who weighs up the facts and makes a call. Making a decision is the sign of real leadership. One way to lose the respect of your team is to talk about something for months, and sometimes years, but do nothing about it.

To paraphrase the old saying, there are three types of people in this world- those that make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened.

EXAMPLE – I was working with a client in 2017 and we decided that a price increase was well overdue. We determined roughly what it should be, however the owner couldn’t decide on whether it should be x% or y%, and then whether there should be different rate increases for different products, and different clients, it became a classic case of creative avoidance. Four months later the owner finally agreed to the original rate increase and it was implemented. None of their clients questioned the increase, so all was fine. However we did the calculation of what that four month delay had cost this business in real bottom line net profit – it was approx. $85,000. The owner wasn’t happy to hear what his procrastination had cost him.    

3. More thinking is not always better thinking.

It’s good to think through your decisions – but don’t overdo it! Research can reach a point of diminishing returns, confusing you more than clarifying. Many good decisions can be made based as much on intelligent intuition, as on meticulous assessment of endless data.

This means that you reason and calculate only as much as you absolutely have to, then stop and do something else. Eg. If there are 7 pieces of information associated with the decision, but one piece of information is clearly more important than the others – then that one piece can be enough to make the right decision. You don’t need the rest – they’re most likely complicating things.

4. Accept that you can’t have it all

In many cases, making a decision closes the door on other possibilities – which is often a positive. At the very least, you are getting something you want. Whether there were better ‘options’ that you may have taken is not critically important because you will never really know. 

It’s the ‘sliding doors’ phenomenon. Ponder about what might have been all you like, but my advice would be to look ahead and move on.  Nobody needs their head space occupied by the worry of ‘did I really make the right decision?’. It just doesn’t do you any good.  Live in the present, where what you do today will have a real impact on your business and life.

5. Not making a decision is often the wrong decision

There is a time for putting off making a decision.  You may want to talk with your business coach, or you may be going through a major personal event which you want to get finalised first.  But don’t defer forever. And let’s be clear – not making a decision on something, is actually taking a particular option. And in all cases there are consequences (good & bad) associated with not making a decision. 

  • The decision is made for you: “You didn’t take care of it, so I did it my way”
  • You miss the opportunity
  • You beat yourself up about your inability to make a call, that you make a rash, impulsive decision on the spur of the moment.

In most cases, the important thing is making the decision. Once this is done, you can move on to other productive things in your business. If it turns out to be the wrong decision, in most cases you still did the right thing by making the call, and following through. You can’t change what happened; but you can change what happens next.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Theodore Roosevelt 

6. Motivation to just do it

If you need further motivation to make the important decisions, focus on how you will feel afterwards. What will be the benefits of making the decision? What good things will flow from the decision?  This can help you dispel the fear. In the end, it all comes down to the fear of consequences; this produces anxiety, which in turn fuels the fear. This paralysis can be a downward spiral.

Far too many people live a life of regrets, through not making those bold, important decisions – that later they wished they had.

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.

Peter F. Drucker

Real Edge

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