Consultant to Creatives

The Clarity Journal

Tactics, Tools, and Truth for Creative Entrepreneurs

3 Reasons You're Stuck on That Business Decision

Much of my work with creatives is helping them make the decisions that are hard for them. 

Should I hire someone? Should I advertise on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram? Should I take on this new project? Should I partner with this organization? Should I develop a new product? Should I put my pricing on my website? 

Making decisions, in business and in life, is neither easy nor simple. Whether the decision is big or small, here are three reasons you might find yourself stuck. 

You Don’t Want to Say No.

Most of the time, taking a decisive step means walking away from another good option. Saying “no” to the other thing is hard: maybe there is nostalgia associated with the way things were before or even fear of missing out on something better. Ironically, research shows that an abundance of good options paralyzes our ability to make decisions. To make matters worse, when we finally do make a decision, we feel less satisfied with our choice.

But, the discipline of saying “no” is important. My husband is fond of saying that people are more defined by saying “no” than saying “yes.” That is to say, people (and companies) that succeed are the ones that protect what is most important to them. They won’t be lured away from their core purpose by every bright, shiny, new opportunity that comes along. 

Making big (and small) decisions becomes much easier when you have a crystal-clear understanding of your priorities. You need to understand what is most important in your business right now and have the discipline to say no to anything that would be a distraction — even, in some cases, opportunities that would make money. 

You Don’t Know Where to Park Your Feelings.

As much as we would like to think of ourselves as completely rational beings that make important decisions based only on cold-hard facts, we just aren’t. I think most of us know and understand that emotions influence our decisions. The problem is that, in a business context, we don’t know the right way to let emotions have a seat at the table. Is it ok to let our feelings about a situation influence important business decisions? How can we protect against giving our feelings too much weight? 

You are a human being, not a robot — your emotions can be an important guide in decision making. But, you have to acknowledge your emotional state and understand how it may be contributing to your thought process. In addition, it is helpful to consult with others as a safeguard. Bringing in others that aren’t invested in the outcome or that have a different temperament can balance the emotional landscape.

You Don’t Want to Take a Risk.

“I’m taking a leap of faith.”

My sister-in-law founded a children’s theater a few years ago, and she sent me the above text to tell me they had decided to lease a space that is double their current size. The new space gives them enough room to build out their own theater so they can host in-house shows. The in-house theater will be a real game-changer. Not only does it increase the value they provide to their students, but they also won’t have to rely on renting outside theater spaces that have to be reserved over a year in advance. Of course, there is also a risk that the additional cost will weigh them down and become a short-term financial chain around their necks.

Decisions are hard because we can’t be sure how things are going to work out. We make our list of pros and cons, we run the numbers, make assumptions, ask for input from others, and project the worst-case scenario. But, ultimately we have to move forward in faith, unable to be 100% certain of the results.

When making a risky decision, its important to understand both the best possible outcome and the worst possible outcome. Most of the time your results will be somewhere in the middle, but you need to be clear-eyed about the risk. Is the potential reward good enough to outweigh the possibility that the worse-case scenario will come to pass?

Next Week on the Blog: You Need a Framework

In light of these factors, its important to have a process in place. Next week I will walk through a proven framework for making solid business decisions and show you how it can work in real life.


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