Analytics, market research, and big data flood the minds of us entrepreneurs to the point it seems as though human decision has been removed from the equation. For many, there is no longer any room for intuition in the boardroom.

As an entrepreneur who has made many of my decisions based on my gut instinct, I disagree that all decisions should be based on data alone.

For example, at one point in time, I was faced with a major decision that could have either ruined the success of my business and career, or skyrocketed it. I stared at the numbers, the facts, the projections, but the choice ultimately came down to following my intuition.

That day, I gave up a majority share of one of my companies for free.

And guess what? It was the best decision I ever made. I gained a business partner that would go on to help me double the business's revenue, support me in acquiring more companies as an entrepreneur, and act as a true mentor above and beyond anyone I knew at the time. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the decision to trust my instincts.

Following your intuition may sound like a fluffy way to make serious business moves, but it's far from that. In order to actually use your intuition productively, you must do some serious work upfront. Here are three ways you can prepare to use the strongest decision-making tool in business.

1. Create clear goals.

In order to leverage your intuition, you must first know who you are and what you want in life. If you view your instincts as a filter for a yes or no decision, it can be a powerful guiding tool. But when you have no idea what you actually want, there is no radio signal for you to tune into in the first place.

Your intuition becomes worthless if you're following someone else's signal, not your own. Every day you are taking in data points from a million different places. If unchecked, these inputs can dictate your belief system and guide your decisions. 

Become really clear on what your intentions are for your business and your career. Take time away from everyone else, including your advisors and mentors, and let your honest thoughts come to the surface.  

Perhaps your long-term goal is to build a business to sell it, or maybe you want to expand and have multiple storefronts. Whatever the goal is, have this truth in mind when making a decision. The more you know what you want, the easier it becomes to quickly identify what is right or wrong for you. Your intuition steps into a sense of autopilot, keeping you on track towards your goals. 

2. Build self-awareness.

Your intuition is subtle. It isn't the voice in your head screaming at you through a microphone. It is the underlying voice whispering in your ear. In order to access this data and accelerate your growth, you must become self-aware. 

To begin building self-awareness, learn to differentiate between your thoughts and what your body is telling you. During the day, take moments to pause and actually notice how your inner body feels. Become aware of what causes your stomach to be in a knot or your chest to tighten, versus feeling relaxed with slow breathing. This is the start of your intuition communicating with you.

When you choose to trust your intuition, you are no longer operating on rules. You are now running on instinct. I view intuition as cutting the line, instead of sitting around waiting to hear what others have to say or making decisions based on the results of other companies. You can skip this step and jump ahead.

3. Be ready to handle the outcome of your decision.

Intuition only works with confidence. When it's all said and done, you must be confident and take ownership of your life. Part of that ownership includes the outcome of your decisions. There will be times when you make a decision and the ideal outcome doesn't come to fruition. But if you go into the decision process knowing you are able to handle any possible outcome, it becomes easier to lean into making choices more powerfully.

Keep a log of the decisions you make and take notes on how they pan out. Periodically refer back to this. It will hardwire confidence into your ability to make sound decisions, while also shedding light on any recurring issues or gaps that pop up. 

The more you can build a foundation to trust your intuition, the more powerful it will be in making the right decisions time and again. What may seem illogical on the surface is actually a calculated method of jumping ahead in your life.

What is your intuition telling you now?