Making difficult decisions is part of being a business owner, whether it is parting ways with a client, admitting you screwed up or having unpleasant conversations with an employee. Running a business is fucking hard.
When faced with a seemingly impossible decision, I look at the below criteria and do my best to think with my head and not my heart – I have about a 40% success rate in that regard.
- Is the situation affecting the business negatively? Your number 1 priority is ensuring you are financially solvent. One tough decision could lead to a more secure future. Being a small business owner you almost get comfortable in the unknown but there is a lot we can control and the majority of the time we have to deal with really shitty situations. Who else is going to do it?
- How is the culture affected? Is the situation causing undue stress on yourself? Employees? Clients? We always need to be looking at the big picture. If the present situation is affecting how your business is run and the processes you have in place…then you know what has to be done.
- Is it causing you unnecessary stress? We have enough stuff that keeps us up at night and knowing that our business is being negatively impacted can cause a lot of sleepless nights.
- Is it making your job harder? Are you taking on more work to offset the current issue? We already serve as COO, owner, brand ambassador, HR and doer of all tasks – not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings doesn’t constitute you running yourself into the ground.
It is easy to map out criteria by which you make a hard decision, but the fact is…we are still human. You may be sick to your stomach about a decision you need to make but you have to do your best to take emotion out of the equation.
If I make it sound easy, it isn’t. I often toss and turn, feel sick to my stomach and have to talk incessantly about it with those I consider my advisors. Don’t expect to feel relieved or that a burden was lifted off you once you do what has to be done. Our human nature won’t let us forget the situation or the people affected.
Frankly, if I stop feeling all the emotions then I am no longer the business owner I strive to be.