Running a business means making a lot of decisions.
Some decisions come easily and obviously; others require more complex analysis, offering a variety of best outcomes. When trying to process all the relevant information in order to come to the best decision, it is easy to get overwhelmed. It is easy to make flawed decisions when we fail to realize that many of our preconceptions are based on what outside institutions teach us, and not what we know to be true.
Here are three common mistakes that small business owners often encounter in the decision-making process:
Underestimating or overestimating the value of information received from others.
People have a tendency to overestimate the value of some individuals and underestimate the value of others, without good cause. For example, it is easy to place too much credence in the opinion of experts, authority figures, high status groups, etc.
In matters of opinion, even experts can have a flawed analysis. Similarly, it is easy to discount information received from perceived lower status groups. Entry-level employees, for example, may still have penetrating insights to another side of the problem which you had never considered. Make sure that you seek out information from a wide variety of sources, and always double check your reasons for accepting or disregarding outside opinions.
Only hearing what you want to hear or seeing what you want to see.
Run a quick psychological experiment. Tell a friend or colleague to look around and try to remember everything that is green. Then have them close their eyes, and ask them about the red objects in their surroundings. Chances are they will not be able to tell you very much. Our perceptions work in a similar manner. We see what we expect to see, so it is critical to be aware of your biases and preconceived ideas in order to mitigate them and come to an objective decision-making process.
Not listening to your feelings or gut reactions:
Sometimes things seem like a great idea, but you still feel bad about it for one reason or another. Don’t ignore these feelings! We are constantly processing more information than we are ever aware of. If something “feels” wrong, stop and take a minute to consider why. By tuning into your intuition, you will be equipped to make much better decisions in the long run.