Biz Tips: Small business owners have three choices when making decisions

Cape Cod Times
Cape Cod Times

An unidentified philosopher has been quoted: “Everything in your life is a reflection of the choices you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice.”

When taking stock of where you are in the life of your business, you are where you are as a result of the choices you have made.

According to Mark Green, speaker, author, strategic advisor with Performance Dynamics Group, when you find yourself at a decision point in the road relative to the trajectory of your business, you most often find yourself at “the invisible fork in the road.”

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You are most often contemplating three choices: (1) Deny the issue and continue on the current path, (2) Stay inside your comfort zone and take limited, low-risk actions, or (3) Decide to act, exchanging short term gain for significant longer term rewards.

Deny and Don’t Act. When we deny a situation we ignore the facts and evidence that would lead to a logical conclusion. Why? FEAR? According to Green, a 2009 study found that fear often overtakes the decision-making process that's based on the potential rather than the actual. Most business fears arise from ego, scarcity or failure. Will the decision negatively affect others’ perception of you? Will you miss an opportunity? Or failure to succeed in the eyes of others or reaping potential rewards. Green suggests business owners ask the following: (1) Where are you in denial of facts and evidence? (2) What choice or action have you delayed? And, (3) Which of the big three fears most affect your choices?

Comfort Zone. This term was coined in the 1990’s by Judith Bardwick. It describes a behavioral state in which individuals operate in an anxiety-neutral state. All entrepreneurs love the comfort zone, however it gives us a false sense of security. We often think we are making progress, but it tends to be an illusion. Fear is also a contributing factor to remaining in one’s comfort zone. Many owners procrastinate releasing toxic performers out of fear of the overall value they bring to the business. Sometimes taking a halfway approach like a “serious conversation” sounds like you are making progress, but the owner hasn’t left their comfort zone out of fear for losing the employee. Green suggests these questions: (1) Where have you settled for the easy choice? (2) Which comfort zone decision would be most productive for you to revisit? And, (3) How can you move past your comfort zone with people decisions?

Making the hard, right decision. If you are a leader and not just a manager, this is your job. You will trade off short-term costs for longer term rewards. You will need to not only choose the hard way, but act to make sure it happens. Continuous “what if” discussions delay the hard choices and right actions. Green suggest that complex decisions need to have simple approaches. Compartmentalize the “why,” ”what,” “how” and “when.” Focusing on the “why” make the rest of the process clearer and easier to undertake. Green also suggests leaders ask these questions: (1) How effective are you in making hard, right choices and acting on them?, (2) How can you compartmentalize the why, what, how and when of your decisions?, And, (3) Where is your team missing an opportunity to make a hard, right choice?

Every choice you make shapes the future of your small business. You control your path, however the choices are yours and the progress you make in achieving your personal and business goals is dependent on the choices you make. At times you will have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable when the tough decisions you are facing become realities. And never forget the tough decisions are never the easy ones, but they are the right ones. (Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire)

Eleanor Roosevelt once said when commenting on making choices: “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”

When entrepreneurs translate this it teaches: Our small business is what it is today because of the hard choices we made in the past.

Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor. SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands,, or 508-775-4884. Sourced: Mark Green, Performance Dynamics Group, LLC, "The 3 Invisible Challenges of Choice"

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