In business leaders constantly face dilemmas requiring a clear head and sound judgment. You cannot depend on intuition alone to make the right decisions for your company. Smart leaders develop a sound process for making tough decisions. Here are five keys to great decision-making for small business success.

1. Act in haste, repent at leisure

This aphorism has stood time's test because it is true. When you do not take time to consider ramifications, a costly error is often the result. The lesson is, when possible, to spend time thinking about your decisions. Weigh the pros and cons first. For instance, when considering drug screening for you business, consider benefits of testings such as avoiding hiring someone with a substance abuse issue versus negatives like the cost involved.

2. Seek wise counsel

Even though you are the boss, you do not have to figure everything out by yourself. Take your concerns to a person who has experience dealing with a similar decision. Say, you must choose whether or not to terminate a skilled employee who is great with customers but is often late or absent. The advice of a more tenured business person can help you with your choice.

3. Learn how to actively listen

Good decision-making skills often depend on how well you listen. Employees and others are constantly in your ear, but how often do you focus exclusively on what they say? Active listening requires complete focus on the person speaking, looking them in the eye, turning your body toward them, silencing distractions such as your phone and repeating back what they say. Learning to really listen gives you a clearer picture of what is happening and can help you make the right decisions for you and those under your supervision.

4. Rely on your brain not your emotions

Being human, your heart often rules your perceptions. You cannot let your personal feelings cloud your reasoning in business. Hard choices have to be made all the time. Take the emotion out of your decisions. For instance, do you look outside of your business to fill a managerial position even though you have an employee willing to train for the job? Your heart might tell you to go in-house but your business sense tells you it is better to hire someone with experience from outside.

5.Count to ten

When you must decide something on the fly, take ten seconds before you act. No, this is not enough time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages or get someone to help you. It is just time enough to help calm you a little. Take a couple of good breaths and use your gut in this situation. For example, if a worker threatens a co-worker, you have to act fast. You might decide the situation is volatile enough to warrant calling 911 or perhaps, you know the person calms quickly, and you can escort him off the premises in a peaceful manner.

Making sound decisions can help you achieve the success you want in both business and life.

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