Decisions, decisions. The life of an entrepreneur is full of them. It's nice to know that we have options, but when there are too many choices or decisions to make, or a real biggie comes along, entrepreneurs can easily get paralyzed by doubt.
I really don't mind making big decisions, because I have a process. These go-to questions have helped me make sound decisions relating to small and life-altering events. So pull out a pen and paper and write your question at the top. It may be something like, "Should I accept this merger offer?" Now answer each of the following questions and watch the answer magically appear before your eyes!
WARNING: You won't always like the answer, but in the long run, it's most likely the best thing for you, your family, and your business.
What would I do if I weren't afraid?
Too many choices are made out of fear and self-imposed ultimatums. Successful entrepreneurs acknowledge their fear and determine the risk factors on both sides of the fence. Then they make the decision that appears to be the best thing for their company without jeopardizing their personal and professional values.
List your fears and doubts and work through them with someone who can remain objective. The best options are often the ones that generate the most fear.
What would I do if money were no object?
Great ideas are easily dismissed owing to lack of funding, or is it a perceived lack of funding? If you put an opportunity through a rigorous evaluation process and it comes out a winner, you shouldn't let money stop you.
If you require a large amount of money, look into crowdfunding, talk to friends and family, and let your network know you are looking for an investor. It's not a good idea to take out a second mortgage, but short of that, you can find the money if you put your mind to it.
What is the worst, and the best, that could happen?
Break out the whiteboard and do a mind map on this one. List the good, bad, and ugly to evaluate the long-term consequences of your decision. Determine the odds of success by doing your research, examining the history of success and failure in similar situations, and by making a list of everything that could go wrong. If you develop an action plan to resolve the potentially hazardous issues, you'll up the odds of success.
What have I learned from past experiences?
Good or bad, each life experience teaches us a lesson. You know that the only failures are the events in life that you don't learn from, but don't forget your triumphs. Look at your past losses and wins, and draw from those experiences. How do those lessons apply here?
How does this fit into my vision?
Are you grasping at straws, or does this move really fit into your business vision? The most successful business models make sense and don't go in a thousand different directions. For the best results, it’s wise to remain focused on your vision and stay away from things that will take you off course.
What are my heart and body telling me?
When a client comes to me because he is suffering the consequences of a poor decision, most often he confesses that he didn't follow his instincts. Think about the last poor decision you made. Didn't you have a feeling that you were making the wrong choice?
If your body is tense, and a little voice in the back of your mind sends out warning signals, don’t dismiss them. You may consciously push away thoughts that don't align with what you want to do, but your subconscious mind won't let you get away with that. Pay attention to these signals. Remember, not all answers will align with what you want in the present, because it's how they affect your future that's most important.
Will I be able to look at myself in the mirror tomorrow?
A values-driven life and business are at the core of most successful entrepreneurs. If you aren't strongly familiar with your most critical values, now is the time to get acquainted. Does this decision support the highest levels of integrity, a collaborative environment, fun, honesty, or whatever is most important to you? How will you feel once this choice is made and acted upon? If you notice things like shame or regret bubbling up, don't push those feelings away. You will always be safe in a decision that supports those values at the core of who you really are.