As an entrepreneur your biggest responsibility is to make important decisions every single day. As the leader of your organization, the decisions you make, day after day, directly impact the future of your company.
But it’s not just the quality of the decisions that matter. It’s the speed too. Entrepreneurs who can make good business decisions quickly are at a significant advantage over those that take their time. In order to be a leader, especially in a new or volatile market, you must make the hard decisions, fast.
Here are five ways you can make better business decisions, faster.
6 Ways to Make Better Business Decisions, Faster
“When you’re not spending any time worrying, you’re spending time executing.”
Know your mission and prioritize accordingly
What is the one thing your company is really trying to do? Keep that squarely in mind, and commit to it. Every decision you make should be directed towards your company’s mission and goals. Every time a tough choice comes up, ask yourself, “Does this decision support the mission of the company?”
Focus on the facts, not on your opinions. When you truly understand the mission of the organization, it’s easier to be objective and to check your ego and emotions at the door. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Speed is the only thing that matters, and opinions predicated on people’s insecurities and ego slow shit down.”
Don’t delay on making important decisions — if you delay, those decisions will still be waiting for you down the road. If you need to, devote a block of time to focus on big-picture decision-making. But it’s important to set deadlines for yourself too, or you could find yourself stuck all day without a decision.
Make fewer decisions about non-essential stuff
Mark Zuckerburg always wears the same thing every day. Why? So he has one less decision to make that day. This relates to the concept of decision fatigue –- a psychological term describing the deterioration of the quality of decision-making that comes with a long series of making decisions. So by eliminating some of the non-essential decisions in your life, you save your time and mental energies for the decisions that really do matter.
Elle Kaplan says to try to find areas where you can streamline. You may not wear the same thing everyday like Zuckerberg, but you may lay out your clothes for the next day, thus eliminating one decision for tomorrow. She says, “If something doesn’t fit your mission in life, why waste time thinking about it?”
Anything can be turned into a binary decision: yes or no
It’s easy to overcomplicate your life (and quickly)! But if you reduce decisions into black or white, good or bad, yes or no, you can avoid the analysis paralysis that can often cripple the decision-making process. It can actually be fun to make fast decisions, as you get to quickly knock things off your to-do list. And honestly, most of your everyday decisions aren’t worth more than 10 minutes.
Delegating empowers your staff to make decisions on their own without waiting for you to say “go”. This in turn is a crucial part of motivating your employees. Try and let your team come to the decision on their own, but be ready to step in and take the reins when necessary. If you do need to step in to make a quick decision, explain your choice to the team, and stick with it.
For complex decisions: set a time limit, follow up, adjust
If an analytical approach to complex decisions is appropriate, it’s crucial to implement a time limit. It’s easy to go into business meetings, discuss the problem, come up with solutions, and then just let them marinade. Commit to something and follow up to see if that was the right choice.
Kaplan recommends conducting decision debriefs on major decisions 30-60 days after implementation — then ask yourself: was a longer analysis ultimately more valuable than a quick assessment of your best options?
If you do need that extra time to make an important decision, don’t delay too long. Fast Company published a great article on decision-making that follows the experience of a startup founder and former Google employee. The co-founder recommends making most major decisions quickly, but then waiting 24 hours before implementing to make sure that decision was the right one. This is a nice middle-path — you’ve sped up your decision-making process but are allowing yourself the patience and perspective that a big decision often requires.
Practice, practice, practice
Consider how much time and effort a decision is worth, and then turn that thought process into a habit.
Here are two quick exercises you can practice daily to help you speed up your decision-making process.
- The 2 minute rule: Make a short deadline for simple decisions, anywhere from 1-5 minutes. This will force you into a rapid pros and cons mentality.
- Put it in a hat: If you have a situation where all options are equal, write them down and put them in a hat, take one, and follow through.
While speed in your decision-making is a critical factor in your business’s success, it’s the quality of the decision that ultimately matters. Yet a slow, methodical analytic approach is not always the best path to that decision. You have to balance patience with decision-making. Speed up the process for the micro decisions to free up time and mental space for the big-picture decisions that really matter, and then execute on them for the win!