SBA Offers Tips for Wise Decision-Making

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As you manage your business, you will be faced with important decisions that may impact the future of your company. This may seem stressful, but keep these tips in mind and you’ll find yourself making wiser decisions in no time:

Define, as specifically as possible, what the decision is that needs to be made. Is this really your decision or someone else’s? Do you really need to make a decision? If you do not have at least two options, there is no decision to be made. When does the decision need to be made? Why is this decision important to you?

Brainstorm, and write down as many alternatives as you can think of. Be sure to use your resources (experienced friends and family, the Internet, etc.) to find out more about the implications of each option.

Visualize the outcome of each alternative. Do you feel more satisfied with one outcome than with the others?

Do a reality check. Cross off those alternatives that most likely will not occur.

Once you have made your decision, get moving on it. Worrying or second-guessing yourself will only cause stress. You have done your very best. Remember, no decision is set in stone.

Here are some common mistakes leaders encounter when trying to make a decision:

Relying too much on expert information. Often, people have a tendency to place too much emphasis on what experts say. Remember, experts are only human and have their own set of biases and prejudices just like the rest of us. By seeking information from a lot of different sources, you will get much better information than if you focused all of your energy on only one source.

Overestimating the value of information received from others. People have a tendency to overestimate the value of certain individuals in our society and underestimate the value of others. When you find yourself doing this, ask yourself: Do they know as much about this problem as I do? Are their values the same as mine? Have they had any personal experiences with a problem like mine? In other words, keep their opinions in perspective.

Hearing only what you want to hear or seeing what you want to see. Try this exercise: Ask a friend to look around and make note of everything that is green. Now, have that friend close his or her yes. Once they are closed, ask him or her to tell you what is red in your surroundings. Most will not be able to tell you what was red because they were focusing on what was green. Our perceptions work the same way. If we have expectations or biases that we are not aware of, we tend to see what we want to see. Likewise, if someone tries to tell us something we do not want to hear, we simply do not hear them. The key is to be aware of your own prejudices and expectations while at the same time staying open to everything that comes your way.

Not listening to your feelings or gut reactions. Have you ever made a decision only to have it be followed by a major stomachache or headache? This is your body talking to you. Our brains are constantly taking in more information than we can consciously process. All of this extra information gets buried in our subconscious. In moments when we need to make a decision, our bodies provide clues to the answer through feelings or gut reactions. By tuning into your intuition, you will find that you will make much better decisions in the long run.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration (

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