The number one question I get asked as a business owner

The number one question I get asked as a business owner

The how-to and framework behind making better business decisions, by Natalie Dean-Weymark, co-Founder + co-Director of Compass Studio.

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The number one question I’m asked when I meet with founding businesses is ‘how did you make the decisions to do that?’ or ‘when did I know it was the right time to do this?’ 

If there is one thing I can’t stand in business chit-chat – particularly start-up press, it’s generalised clichés. Don’t talk to me about gut feels and divine timing. Sure, that helps. But what about the in-betweens when you feel such decision-fatigue that you can’t even decide what to order off the menu for breakfast, let alone make major decisions about the future of your business? Gut feels are lovely, and worth listening to, but at the end of the day, I personally am not always in the external or internal place to really hear this intuition, so here are a few strategies I have for those times. 

Time is your friend. 

Around the time that COVID was really heating up and buckling all the foundations of our business as we knew it, Luke and I gave ourselves the permission to not know all the answers – to be able to say, ‘I’m going to take the space and time I need to really think about this for you.’ It sounds simple, but not having all the answers is liberating. No longer did we have to be the all-knowing leaders that have all the answers, but humans that need time and space to process complex challenges. In fact, saying ‘I’m not sure’ has changed the way in which our team sees and supports us. 

And solutions that we wouldn’t have seen in the moment of things – whether it be because stress, emotion or just the nitty gritty of the day itself – often come to us in the coming days when we least expect it. It’s like once the dust settles, you can see clearer and problems seem simpler to solve. This means, you actually do have all the answers, sometimes you just need to wait for them. 

But I don’t have time. This is 2021. 

I get it. Time is a luxury and if there is anything that this current climate has taken away, it’s luxuries. Sometimes a call just needs to be made, pronto. And while I would still hold on to the fact that no decision needs to be made in the absolute moment (you still have time, even if it’s not much!) I think fully understanding a decision for what it actually is, is quite frankly life changing. And that is: you are just doing the best you can, with the information you have available on the day. We are human, we make mistakes – I make a lot of them. But if I make the wrong call, I know that often it can be re-worked later or better yet, it’s one of those learnings that help me make better decisions in the future. Letting myself off the hook like this has enabled me to make quicker, better and less emotionally-attached decisions as decisions no longer feel reflective of me or my business knowledge – just the situation itself. In the words of a very good friend who gave me some very sound advice many years back, “You must remember that no decision is ever really the wrong decision. Because it’s the decision you made at the time. Respect your past self and her choices”. 

Okay, any final tips? 

What are your central orbits and how do you loop them into your decision making process? Make your business values visible in your office, have your business goal handy or have a word that guides you and write it on a post-it on your screen. These core frameworks should sit at the front of your psyche and become the filter in which every decision runs through: is this supporting or inhabiting where we are going?  

And because I promised not to give you fluff and actual liftable strategies; 

  • I’ve spoken about the importance of core business values a lot in our eBook here (including how to make them, action them and talk about them)
  • We have very clear business goals around financials and scales that I can distill into one single sentence. Whatever your goal, condense it into a single statement that you can directly relate to each challenge. 
  • This one is a bit whimsical, but in work and life, I like to have a word that grounds me in the daily. This year it’s ‘ease’, not to be confused with easy.
    How can I find the greatest and most natural ease here? I highly recommended it. Feel free to take my word for a road-test – I’ve found it very helpful so far. 

So that’s where I’m at right now in the grand scheme of making both big calls and deciding what to cook for dinner. It’s just today’s version, and it will absolutely change in the future – exactly as it should. 

As always, I love to hear from our community. Drop into our DMs and tell me what you want to hear from me. 

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