3 Tips for Making Better Start-Up Business Decisions

October 21, 2009 – 9:13 am | by Matt Ackerson

ambiguity

It’s great to “believe in yourself,” and all that jazz, but what are some more concrete, actionable tips you can start using today to be a better decision maker for your start-up business?

1) Trust your judgment over that of others. I emphasize this especially if the advice you’re given is unsolicited. Every entrepreneur has a vision for his or her start-up. If you follow someone else’s advice you are less likely to be passionate about the execution of that vision. So trust your own judgement, even if you fail miserably. At least you’ll learn from it and you won’t be second guessing how it played out, thinking: “If only I had stuck to my guns and done what I thought was best.”

2) Learn to NOT be reactionary. I wrote an earlier post about the metaphor of the Spinning Top, which is related to this. The basic principle here is this: you’re going to be deluged with lots of ideas and suggestions from other people, inside and outside of the company. Be cautious and appropriately paced in turning your attention and resources towards implementing any of those new ideas.

3) When in doubt, defer to the numbers. The biggest reason more people don’t start businesses is because they are afraid of the “risk” that comes with the persistent, high levels of ambiguity. This is the context under which you will make decisions everyday as an entrepreneur (e.g. Why should I make this phone call rather than finish this research survey? Which is a higher priority for the company?). When you are uncomfortable with your ability to make a decision, try to evaluate the facts of the situation. Even better, check to see if there is data to counter or support your choice. This can be one of the most effective tactics for minimizing ambiguity and making better business decisions.

To review, you’re on the ground floor everyday so rate your judgement above that of others; deftly pace the reallocation of resources with regard to implmenting new ideas that come up; and finally focus on that which can be measured.

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  1. 2 Responses to “3 Tips for Making Better Start-Up Business Decisions”

  2. By John Exley on Oct 21, 2009 | Reply

    I understand where you’re coming from in regards to not being “reactionary” in business and staying focused rather than “dying by over-consumption of opportunity”, however what is your take on Gary Vaynerchuk being a huge advocate for “reactionary business”? http://garyvaynerchuk.com/post/78973203/reactionary-business-why-predict-the-future

    Is your point different than Gary’s, or do you disagree with his perspective?

  3. By Matt A.* on Oct 21, 2009 | Reply

    Hey John, I had to listen to Gary’s video blog post twice and I’m still only half sure of what he’s trying to say. The jist of it seemed to be is that “When stuff like Facebook or Twitter comes along and changing how people can market stuff online, I’ll jump on the idea, when I notice it & if it can help me in business.”

    What I’m saying it is different from Gary point, but there is some overlap. For example, if you just launched a web business and someone comes to you and says, “Hey, this Facebook thing is taking off, you should turn your concept into a Facebook app,” that’s a different decision from, “Hey, Facebook is taking off, let me see what happens if I create a Facebook fan page.” The latter is a low investment and an easy decision to make, whereas the former is a more significant investment of time, resources, and then how the heck do you market the app?

    Gary’s advice is sound on the surface and therefore hard to disagree with, but because he paints broad strokes of ideas, it’s less actionable. You need to consider specific circumstances.

    “You’re more likely to die of indigestion of too much opportunity [read: ideas on where to take your business], than starvation for too little.”

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