Learn to Change Course

 

As a small business owner, learning to change course is a necessity. Watch these brief thoughts on the topic.

The Right Person at the Right Time

 

As a small business owner, you must hire the right person at the right time. Yet the right person for a small business isn’t always the right person for a large business (or vise versa). Watch to learn more.

Are You Overthinking Business Decisions?

Every day, business owners makes countless decisions. Some have long-term, significant impact on the business. Others are small ones. It is important to think through decisions. However, you should be aware overthinking decisions can lead to paralysis, missed opportunities, and slow your business to a crawl. So why don’t people choose to make timely decisions?

 

Fear of being wrong

Some business owners I know test out potential decisions on anyone and everyone. They go from person to person and explain a situation in depth. They talk about their plan and play out the scenarios. The truth is, certain people and resources can provide feedback to help you make good decisions. Others simply don’t know your business well enough. As a business owner, you have to be ready to take risks. Do nothing and the competition speeds ahead of you.

 

The need to know everything

For many, it’s important to have every piece of information available and analyze it to death. You simply can’t know it all. The best way to navigate is to understand how much information you need to be comfortable with your decision. This is different for each person. For me, when it comes to small decisions, I am good with 60%, for big ones 80%.

 

Too much collaboration

Large organizations with complex teams are especially susceptible to over-collaborating. It’s great to have diversity of thoughts and ideas, but too much collaboration can delay or sidetrack critical projects. The speed of business demands efficient collaboration. This is actually easier and more convenient with today’s technology. Collaboration tools like Cisco Spark, Skype for Business, and Zoom make it easy to “get in the same room” and move business ahead.

So how do you avoid overthinking decisions? Here is some advice from Stop Wishing. Stop Whining. Start Leading, a book I co-authored with Doreen Bolhuis.

“One approach is to break the decision down into “smaller bites.” Think of it this way, if you want to buy a new house, you don’t just go out and do it. First, you get pre-qualified for a loan so you know how much buying power you have and if you will be able to secure funding. You might research neighborhoods. You would look at the property values, the schools, and location with regard to essential services. Next, you might be looking at the styles of homes, layouts, the number of bedrooms, etc.  You are breaking the home-buying decision down into manageable decisions. This is the same process you use for business decisions.

Timing is important. You must get that right. Once you have done the research, make the best decision you can. It may not be perfect. In fact, it won’t be, because nothing is perfect. If you wait for perfect conditions you will never do anything. You will get stalled.

After you make a big decision, you may experience “buyer’s remorse.”  This is very common especially with large decisions. These are decisions that impact people and the business in a life-changing way. Don’t second guess yourself. It is easy to feel like you should or could have done more.  Unfortunately, the world does not stand still so you must be disciplined and keep moving forward, even if it feels bad emotionally.”

A few final thoughts.

If you are going to lead an organization, decision-making is a critical skill. Start practicing with small ones and work your way up to the big ones. Don’t overthink your decisions or your organization will suffer. If you are looking for a formal process check out the 7 Steps to Effective Decision Making from UMass Dartmouth.

 

The Business Plan

The business plan has been the “must” for every would-be entrepreneur. When I first started out, I read all the books about how to create the perfect one before I ventured out to get funding. While everyone has their own twist on what to include, there are some typical components. They range from an executive summary, to analyzing the competition, customer profiles, marketing and the like. It took quite a bit of time and research to develop my first plan which was lengthy…you might say it was more like a thesis, but it did help me get funded.

Today it is much different and a lot of start-ups, as well as existing businesses, are rethinking the business plan. Much of this is due to the speed at which business gets done and the constantly changing landscape. There are also differing points of view on the value and need for a business plan. Some businesses have been wildly successful without one. However, having a business plan does have an impact according to a study published in Small Business Economics. The study found “entrepreneurs that take the time to create a plan for their business idea are 152% more likely to start their business.”

New online tools like HubSpot make it easy to create a plan. In fact, some tools boast a completion time of less than ten minutes. I would think making the leap to start or re-position your company should be worth more of your time and reflection.

One expert I think has it right is Ellen Rohr, the author of The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan. She has created a simple and very cool six-week process to get a great idea off the ground. Or, there is a weekend biz plan if you are really in a hurry. You don’t need to go online, create a profile, save a password, download templates…you get the idea. All you need is the book and a three-ring binder. Ellen coaches you through the process day by day.

I had the opportunity to work with Ellen recently on a video shoot and her expertise and enthusiasm for business are evident. And, we agree on a key point. Sometimes, we make business more complicated than it needs to be. As a result, it is easy to avoid tasks completely or procrastinate. By breaking down the areas of business and then addressing each in a systematic way you are more likely to get results.

A business plan should be a living document you refresh frequently, not something you create once and file away.  What I like about the binder is you can update and review things without ever having to boot up a device. Don’t get me wrong, I love my technology, but sometimes leafing through papers gives you a whole different perspective than scrolling a large document. Of course, Ellen does have downloadable versions of her work.

Business plans are not just for start-ups. If you have an existing business, or are updating or refreshing, your plan is even more important. And, it won’t be based on guesses (my first plan had a lot of those) but solid information and experience to help you grow and improve.