The Art of Simplifying Decisions

Decisions can be difficult. Because of the lasting impact some decisions can bring, people can feel like they should put off deciding, as they may not feel ready to deal with the potentially unknown consequences. For a young entrepreneur, in particular, making a wrong decision can have potentially devastating consequences on the success and profitability of their business or team.

However, delays can carry their own costs, especially when charting how a business will operate or what goals it will pursue. So how can leaders make decisions more easily, while still making sure what they’re doing makes sense given what information is available? To find out more, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council to offer insights garnered from their own experience on how to make practical and straightforward decisions. Here’s what they advise:

1. Follow the Data Objectively

In order to make difficult decisions easier, you must follow the data objectively, wherever it may lead. Humans are inherently emotional, which can cloud their decision-making abilities. Data has the power to clarify and sharpen our vision, thereby allowing us to make objectively informed decisions. The data will likely never be complete or perfect, but it’s arguably better than relying on intuition. – Susan Rebner, Cyleron, Inc.

2. Take Yourself Out of the Equation

If you take yourself out of the equation when it comes to decision making, it can be easier to see what would be best for your business. Sometimes, your judgment can be clouded by emotion, which can complicate things. Pull yourself out of that for a moment and your thinking will be clearer. – Adrien Schmidt, Aristotle, by

3. Pretend You’re Advising a Friend

Often, making decisions is difficult because we have a personal stake in the outcome. Our personal biases get in the way, too. If we take ourselves out of the equation, it can be easier for us to make decisions. One way you can do this is by pretending that you’re advising a friend. When you’re helping a friend, you’ll try to be as objective as possible to help them see the best possible choice. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

4. Delegate Your Decisions

If you really don’t know the best route forward, you need to check if someone else has a strong opinion about it. One of the great mistakes entrepreneurs make is thinking that all the key decisions should be theirs. They aren’t. Delegate if you’re in a rut and spend your time on something more important. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International

5. Ask ‘Why’

So long as any entrepreneur knows what they want and why they want it (i.e. the outcome they expect), decision-making is easy. Growing startups are swimming in a sea of ideas — whether it’s the next hot product feature or the next great marketing strategy. Unless a team knows what it wants and why, allocating resources can be fraught with confusion and arbitrary decisions. – Stephen Ufford, Trulioo

6. Quickly Calculate ROI

A data-driven approach to decision making can simplify how you evaluate all opportunities. Consider the necessary inputs (money, time, resources) and estimate the output (sales, efficiency improvements, cost savings, etc.). Then, compare that against the minimum benchmarks you require for pursuing anything new versus reinvesting in already-proven growth strategies to factor in opportunity cost. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

7. Write Down a List of Pros and Cons

Writing down a quick list of the pros and cons is a great exercise to help you make decisions easier. You can visually see the benefits and drawbacks of the decision and whether those benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Not only will it help you make decisions easier, but it will help you make more informed ones as well. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

8. Create a Deadline

You can waste a lot of time mulling over a decision, so to be able to make decisions easier, create a deadline for yourself. Setting a hard deadline for yourself will give you time to weigh the pros and cons and do research, but also kick you into high gear, instead of constantly going back and forth. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

9. Evaluate and Accept Opportunity Costs

For simple decisions, such as buying a brand of toothpaste, opportunity costs are lower — you are just rejecting alternative toothpaste brands. For more complicated decisions, such as volunteering for community service and time management, you need to scrutinize what opportunities you are trading. The decisions will not always come easily, but you can approach knowing the price. – Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.

10. Consider the Outcomes

We like to take a look at the best and worst outcome, followed by a middle ground outcome, which tends to be the most accurate measurement. When you think ahead about the good and bad, you’ll likely make a smart business decision and have a plan if things don’t go according to plan. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

11. Read About the Experiences of Others

If you’re in a situation where you need to make a decision but feel like you’re stuck, consider reading about others who experienced similar situations. The odds are you’re not alone and many people have had to make the same decision that you’re currently contemplating. If you reflect on the experiences of others, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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