For any company, there is a regular need for decision making. But there is a need for a thoughtful and proper decision making too. How can that be done while also not compromising on the vision and goal of the company?
The success or failure of any startup results from nothing more than a series of small, medium and large decisions that may need to be taken. Make more right decisions than wrong ones and your startup are more likely to succeed. In my experience, the best startup decisions are the result of a carefully thought out process.
Before we get into the actual process, there are some things that need to be known or discussed. There are some conditions that must be met regarding the situation itself to qualify it for proper decision making.
- Follow your passions – For most world-class entrepreneurs, passion does not come primarily from the prospect of financial gain or personal notoriety; it comes from an innate desire to change the world. To make the right decisions for your startup, you must believe that if your startup succeeds, you will change the world in the ways you desire. The more your startup aligns with your passions, the more confident you will feel that you are making the right decisions for the right reasons.
- Embrace the reality – You have to be able to properly assess and accept reality. Smart entrepreneurs do not see the glass as half-full or half-empty; they see a glass with a certain amount of water. Then, they decide to drink the water, or fill up the glass with more water. To make the right decisions, you must first see things as they really are.
- Practice some balance – Your mind, body, and soul must be balanced before you can make good decisions. This is perhaps the most important prerequisite, and one that most entrepreneurs brazenly ignore. Startup culture encourages over-work and over-play; to be balanced you must also be mindful of your health and spiritual life, not just stimulating your mind.
From the pre-requisites it is pretty clear that, it is not about the dream but also a pinch of reality and rational thinking for proper decision making to be successful.
It is always better to go through the conditions provided above, and assuring that they hold good so that the decision you take will not affect your company in any harm.
Let’s set up a scenario and walk through it. In our sample scenario, we are trying to figure out the primary customer type to market your start-up’s solution to.
1. Identify the decision
Clearly identify the single decision you want to make and do not let any external issues to fog it up. In the sample scenario, you might ask yourself, “Out of my entire world of potential customers, who is my start-up’s one highest-revenue-generating customer?”
2. Identify your options
Lay out the different options you have based on your own knowledge, keeping in mind the values that make up your startup either unique or special. In our example, you will now identify the different customer types that can generate revenue for your startup. And if we’re being realistic, you might eliminate certain customer types at this step as they are not feasible to reach.
3. Gather information
Collect as much information as is pragmatic about your options. In our setup, you might research different customer segments to gain further insight into your start-up’s market and reduce your blindness. After conducting research, you may end up eliminating a certain revenue-generating customer type, because it doesn’t match your start-up’s vision or the context you are working within.
4. Make and implement the decision
Finally, the fun part: You get to make a decision and act on it! The decision should incorporate the information you have gathered, your gut instinct and your start-up’s vision. In this example, you would make a firm decision on which customer segment you will target and start marketing to that segment (the marketing strategies you use may be a separate decision).
5. Evaluate the outcomes
Evaluate objectively if you made the right decision. Some questions you can ask in our sample scenario include: Is my startup solving a real need for this customer? How much revenue has been generated? Am I convinced that this was the right customer to target or should I target another customer? If you have balance in your life when thinking through such questions (i.e. your mental well-being is not solely dependent on startup success), you can make a proper evaluation. If you conclude you made the wrong decision, assure the prerequisites are really met and start over from step one.
In a startup, as in life, you will seldom have enough information to conclusively make the right decisions. To a certain extent, you have to rely on your gut instinct; especially as most decisions are interdependent (i.e. though Chinese food may look bland they have as good as a flavour as Italian just with less oregano).
When decision time comes, regardless of whether it is a small or a significant decision, make sure that you are passionate for the right reasons, thinking realistically, and practicing balance in your life and following a thoughtful decision-making process. If you do these things, you will you make the right calls more often than not, and your startup will be better for it.
This article just talks in generic decision making process that would help you in the direction that needs to be pointed at. There are so many specific decision making modules available out there for your peruse. Utilize emerging tools such as Clarity.fm to talk with the right experts and Compass.co to help put market data into the right context for your startup.