How to become a better decision-maker

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg once wrote that a key element of efficiency in business was knowing what needed to be achieved: “We try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting — are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?”

I think that is a crucial lesson for all businesses; know your end-goal and don’t overthink or overanalyse.

The ability to make fast decisions is important for any business owner, but it’s not necessarily an easy skill to master – especially when you’re personally invested in every aspect of your company.

Even when a decision is relatively minor, people can get caught up looking for the perfect choice, rather than simply finding the best one and committing to it.

As decisions get bigger and the effects of them become more long term, it can become increasingly difficult to make that call and many people get stuck running “what if” scenarios through their heads.

Being able to stop procrastinating and make good choices will play a big part in how productive you and your business are. So here are my three tips for how to be a better decision-maker:

1. Do your homework, but don’t seek perfection.

When you draw up a list of pros and cons, inevitably there are items in each column.

There is very rarely a perfect decision, so if you’re looking for one, you could be searching for a long time!

By all means, have that list. Do your research, speak to the right people until you properly understand the benefits and drawbacks, but always be prepared to make the best choice – not the perfect one.

2. Take emotion out of the equation.

Decisions should be made on facts as much as (if not more than) feelings. There are, of course, cases when you will let your gut lead you, but for the most part, allowing emotion to take over can push logic out the door.

Before making bigger decisions, it’s worth getting some breathing space – focus on something else for a while, or switch off entirely – to ensure your head is clear when you make up your mind.

3. Stop procrastinating!

There are times when delaying a decision is necessary, but if you continually avoid making choices – because you don’t have 100% control over the outcome, or you’re waiting for a risk-free scenario – you’re very likely to do your business more harm than good.

Going over and over the same problem won’t necessarily make the answer any clearer, and can ultimately cause more anxiety and confusion. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and make a call.

As Richard Branson once said: “As long as you don’t make the same mistake twice, just make a decision and go for it.”

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5 childhood traits that can create success in business

Young girl in a superhero capeExperience is usually an invaluable attribute in business. In most cases, we become older and wiser as we learn from both our successes and failures. We find new and better ways of approaching challenges, we become more aware of risks, and we develop tried and true strategies.

However, with all that experience, you can also lose something – be it natural instinct, boundary-less creativity or the ability to be bold. These are traits kids have in spades, so I thought I’d look at what other characteristics children have that can benefit us in business.

1. Self-belief

When you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, they’ll tell you anything from a footballer, to a singer, to an astronaut.

That sort of genuine self-belief that we can do and be anything we want is important to hang on to, whether you’re starting your own business, progressing your career or working towards a personal objective.

Having complete confidence in your ability to succeed is not only the best way to do so, it’s also the best way to bring other people on board with your plans.

2. Fearlessness

Weighing risk against reward is a daily occurrence in business.

But while it’s important to be aware of negative outcomes, it’s essential that those thoughts don’t dominate every decision you make.

Children have a unique sense of fearlessness, and a dash of that can help you be bold and explore an idea you otherwise wouldn’t have. Sometimes the risky move is the right one!

3. Enthusiasm

While a child’s energy can be exhausting for the adults around them, their enthusiasm for every activity is something we can learn from.

Having passion for what you do and demonstrating that passion to others is a great way to stay motivated and inspire people.

Positivity is infectious, and it’s a great thing to have filter throughout your business.

4. Resilience

“When you fall off the horse you have to get back on.” It’s an expression quoted at us throughout our lives, and there’s a lot of truth to it.

From when we are very young, we are told that if we fail we should try again – and there’s no reason that lesson should ever stop.

In business, challenges are inevitable, so being equipped to deal with them and not react to every setback as though it’s the end of the road is crucial.

5. Imagination

The ability to think outside the box is such an obvious benefit in business, and so a touch of childhood imagination might make all the difference.

As adults, our creativity can be dimmed by our acceptance of reality, but for children, the idea of ‘the impossible’ doesn’t really exist.

If you can see life through a child’s eyes, you’ll be less aware of boundaries and more able to innovate.

Chris Niarchos is a lifelong entrepreneur and founder of The Cobra Group of Companies, which specialises in incubating, developing and managing a portfolio of start-up enterprises and successful companies.

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