As the head of a design and marketing firm I’ve often run into the client that just can’t make up their mind. One day they love my design and vision for a campaign, and the next they’re sending me an email with changes and updates. You’ve probably experienced this in your business too, and maybe even been an offender. I see entrepreneurs make the mistake of “paralysis by analysis” quite often. Indecisiveness can cripple a business and severely halt growth. In fact, there is a high correlation of success when entrepreneurs and business leaders can make timely, decisive decisions. Below are some of my top tips to avoid over-analyzing and start being decisive. Feel free to use these on your clients or yourself.
Tip #1: Limit the opinions of family and friends.
Most often, I’ve noticed this indecision is crowdsourced. By crowdsourced, I mean these indecisive clients solicit the opinions of their friends and family and they receive all sorts of feedback. Some good, some not (and if I’m telling it like it is, almost always it’s not). This is a natural thing for us, as social beings, to do. It works great for many things, but it doesn’t work for business. It doesn’t work because family and friends are very rarely subject matter experts on your business. You wouldn’t expect a tennis pro like Roger Federer to give advice to a golfer like Tiger Woods on how to hit a 9 iron on the 18th hole of the Open Championship. There’s only one person on that course Tiger would listen to, his caddie. So why would you ask someone outside of your field of expertise when money is on the line?
Tip #2: Evaluate the decision within context
Often I see entrepreneurs post a question like, “which book cover do you prefer?” I see these questions on social media sites all the time. The feedback rolls in and lots of reasons behind the choice of A or B come back. Sometimes the peanut gallery gets it right, and sometimes they don’t.
Now, you might be asking, how do I know there’s a right and wrong answer? Isn’t it all subjective? I can emphatically tell you, it is not subjective. There is a science behind all decisions and it’s called “context”.
In the case of book covers, my advice is to take a screen shot of the section of Amazon or iTunes store the book will be featured in (i.e.- business & finance, self-help, etc.). Shrink your book cover down to that screen size where you can see it up against the 30 or so other books vying for the same reader. See which of your covers stands out visually. Then ask folks who are potential readers of that book to tell you which cover(s) stand out to them. Now we have a real basis in which to make a decision, and we’ve taken second-guessing out of the equation because there’s only one right answer.
Tip #3: Set a time-limit to make a decision
I’ve come to the realization that indecisive folks are oftentimes prone to procrastination. The good news is this is a really simple fix. Set a drop-dead date. Note it on your business and personal calendars. Giving yourself a deadline takes away the opportunity to procrastinate. Better still, announce your deadline to co-workers, friends or family so that they can hold you accountable. It’s literally impossible to be indecisive when you have a hard deadline.
Tip #4: Exercise & reward your decision-making “muscles”
In any endeavor, practice makes perfect. Just as a professional athletes train and develop the particular muscles needed to perform at a high level, so must you exercise the parts of your brain that make decisions. Try to be more decisive and quicker in making a small decision in your day. Whether that’s ordering the first cocktail that comes to your mind at happy hour, or choosing which outfit to wear in the morning, be decisive in that small act. I once read, “how you do one thing, is how you do everything,” and I’ve found it to be absolutely true. Though those small decisions seem unimportant, just making them efficiently creates new pathways in the brain that will aid the big decisions. Don’t forget to evaluate those decisions at the end of the day and reward yourself for the good ones you made. This practice will help you refine the actual decision-making process for the “biggies” too. You’ll learn what reasoning brought about results good or bad, and you can adjust your thinking the next time.
Tip #5: Learn to delegate the decision making process
Entrepreneurs have a tendency to have “type A” personalities or be micro-managers. Not everyone, but most fall in this category or naturally lean in this direction. In many ways it’s a good thing, and in other ways it can be a hinderance. You simply might not be cut out to make the particular decision at hand. For instance, I’m a poor judge of numbers. I’m definitely a right-brained creative type and the logic of numbers and calculations escapes me. We all need to know our gifts and our weaknesses. To that end, we need to know when to accept the advice of experts in the field or others in our organization that are better equipped to make the decision. Deferring in this way is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength as a leader. If you absolutely don’t know which path to take, or which decision to make, find someone you can trust who’s better at it than you.
I hope you’ve found these five tips useful in becoming a better decision maker. You’ll find it’s equally rewarding personally and financially. Cheers to your continued success!
Gabriel Aluisy is the founder of Shake Creative, a Tampa, Florida based advertising agency focused on design and marketing for private clubs and luxury lifestyle brands. He has written the bestselling book, Moving Targets: Creating Engaging Brands in an On-Demand World which can be purchased at all major booksellers including Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @gabrielaluisy.