Written by David Knowles

The Tough Decision

How can anybody like making tough decisions? The nagging feeling in your stomach, the sleepless nights, the indecision which keeps you jumping from one side of the fence to the other, the not knowing how things will turn out in the future once you’ve made the decision… what’s to like about that?

Unfortunately, tough decisions are part and parcel of business, and life. And as much as we might try and put them off, avoid them or procrastinate they rarely go away by themselves and inevitably you’ll be forced to do something.

But, how do you deal with these decisions? And how do you ensure you make the right one? Here’s my thoughts on how to deal with tough decisions and ultimately doing what is right for you and your business.

  1. Understand what you want to do – This sounds obvious, but being clear about what you need to make a decision about is vital. Write down the problem(s) and/or what you want to achieve so you have a visual representation of what needs to be done.
  2. Don’t be knee jerk – you need to consider everything and being knee jerk on a major decision means you haven’t done that – you might regret it. Sleep on it (if you can!) and look at it again in the morning. Things often do seem or feel different after some time away.
  3. Know all the facts – Get everything together that you need, you must know the whole picture. Study the numbers, talk to everybody involved and get their viewpoints, understand exactly what it is you want to achieve. Your aim is to get a balanced perspective on everything. Try and use reliable factual information where possible and not just speculative opinion – keep referring back to the sources of information you trust the most.
  4. Take advice – Talk to trusted people who aren’t involved and who can help you to make sense of all that you now know and who can perhaps provide an alternative view point or specialist advice. If they have been involved in a similar scenario in the past this advice can be invaluable and could allay fears you may have or make you think of things you hadn’t previously.
  5. Detach yourself – The decision you are making isn’t personal, but based on the best interests of you and your business. You mustn’t start putting personalities into your decision as this will muddy the water. If it helps, take yourself away from those who may be effected, you may not feel right doing this, but it will help you in the long run.
  6. Get buy-in – Your ultimate decision will probably effect others, so make sure you have the support of your colleagues and those people who will have to help manage the aftermath. You’ll need them and their support, both professionally and possibly personally.
  7. Make your decision – Once you have considered everything, taken on advice, put personalities to one side and understood what it is you need to do for the future, your gut will tell you what is right, listen to it and make your decision.
  8. Lob the grenade – Make it happen. Be clear, concise and unwavering. Focus on the facts and reasons why you are making the decision. This is the point of no return, you cannot undo what’s now been done. But, take solace in the fact that you’ve now made a decision and a path has been set, at least that’s one thing you no longer need to worry about.
  9. Stick to your guns – Be strong and remain focused. You know why you made the decision and what it was you wanted to achieve. You will have moments when you doubt what you have done, you will have people pointing fingers at you asking why you did it because they don’t understand, and you may even get your support network questioning you, but don’t waiver, you’ve made your decision – stick to it. Everyone will always have an opinion, but ultimately it is your opinion that counts. Do what the facts, your head and your gut instinct tells you to do – you are right.
  10. Keep talking  – don’t isolate yourself, keep talking to your closest confidants, you’ll need their support, their reassurance and their ears.

See it through – it will be hard at times and doubt will inevitably creep in, but you will get through it and come out the other side. You will have learnt a lot, developed in yourself and gained an experience which will be invaluable for your future. It will all have been worth it.