The upside of running your own business is being your own boss. But are you actually your own boss or is how you naturally think and respond running the show much more than you realise?
Some of us pore over statistics and facts to make decisions.
Some of us are led by what we would like to happen.
And some of us go with what feels right or wrong.
We all lean towards one form of decision making more than another. There is a place for decisions made by head, heart or intuition but how we manage ourselves is critical to using the right approach at the right time.
At a meeting with a new client, one of the first things I look for is how they approach decision-making. It helps me to create a balance for them and work out how to support them in assessing their next moves.
When I meet a client who cranks up their CRM as soon as I arrive or presents me with lots of statistics so that I can see where they are at, I always take them a step back and get down to the basics of why are they in business in the first place - what did they set out to achieve? You would be surprised at how often clients have lost sight of it behind facts, figures and statistics.
At the other end of the scale, there are clients who have no facts or figures. Many small businesses are created from the heart - the driving force behind their inception is deeply personal. The passion that underpins them is so critical to their values, delivery and approach that it should never be overlooked. But without some facts, it can be very hard to make an informed decision. But the greatest danger is saying “Yes” to opportunities that can’t properly be assessed and leave a legacy that is not entirely desirable. For these clients, getting basic research in place is essential to constructively challenge and support future decisions.
Somewhere in between, are clients who feel that something is or isn’t right but can’t put their finger on why and aren’t sure how to get the answer to the question. Supporting them to get to the bottom of why with a mix of facts and feelings is the way forward and brings out the root issues that have been leaving them unsettled.
The truth is that we all fit into these scenarios at different times. So how can we use our natural assets to their best advantage in growing our businesses?
Although every situation will be different, there are a number of common issues that can help us decide whether to go with our heads, hearts or intuition when making decisions. And it all comes down to foundations.
My own approach to marketing is based on three distinct aspects to growth, that form a full 360° circle. The three stages are:
The Marketing Jigsaw
When businesses lose their way or get confused, it is usually because the first stage of Foundation Marketing has been overlooked or is incomplete.
Foundation Marketing is the absolute basics of what your business is about - how it is positioned, who it is serving and what is seeking to achieve. I have yet to meet a small business who has all of these things fully in place, no matter how long they have been in business. And the reason for that is simple. It’s all in your head.
When you need to make a decision, it is definitely time to unpack it from your head and give it an airing. The next time you need to make a decision about your business or a new opportunity, ask yourself:
- Is this what we wanted to achieve when we set up the business?
- Where will it take us?
- Does it fit with our values?
- Is it something that our customers would really want?
- Does it fit with our market position?
- Will it add value to our business or take it away?
- What are the risks and can we accept them?
- What are the benefits and are they worth it?
- Do we really want to do this?
To answer some of the questions you will need facts and figures, to answer others you need to listen to yourself. You have to balance the “needs must” with the “what if’s” and the "why's".
If you are more often led by your heart or easily persuaded by others, then do your research and don’t be rushed into making a decision. Use facts to interrogate yourself and others. Ask someone you trust who is not involved to offer their opinion. You may not agree with it, but an objective opinion will raise issues you probably hadn’t considered.
If you are led by your head in the main, consider how you want to feel about your business. Will it make you happy or will you resent the time and effort. Is this really where you want to go or are the figures and facts leading you away from what you actually want?
And whether you are led by head or heart, if something is niggling away at you that just doesn’t feel right - that’s your intuition trying to tell you something. You may try to brush it under the carpet but it will still be there and you will know it. Intuition is a powerful force that tells us to look deeper and one that I believe all small business owners should listen to.
Balance may not be an easy thing to achieve, but recognising our natural inclinations in decision making gives us a real chance to capitalise on our strengths and take our businesses forward with a smile.