Making the Toughest Business Decisions You’ll Ever Have to Make

The Stormy Road Ahead

Tough decisions are usually pretty easy to identify. They’re those moments when your only choice is to (hopefully) choose the lesser of two evils. To choose the path that’s bad instead of the one that’s worse. To try and figure out if a risk is worth taking or not.

There’s no easy way to make a hard decision. But there is a right way and a wrong way.

The Pitfalls of Avoiding the Tough Decisions

This is the wrong way. There are two ways to avoid making tough decisions. One is bad. The other gives you a fifty-fifty chance of making the right decision.

  1. Do everything. One of the easiest ways to avoid making a tough call is to choose both. Do everything. Be all things to all people. The cost of doing everything will kill a business because every business has competition. The cost of doing everything will either drive your prices up out of your market’s reach, or they’ll whittle away your profit till there’s nothing left. Or less.
  2. Do nothing. I guess the popular way of saying this these days is “stay the course”. Not making a decision IS a decision. And you’ve got a 50% chance that it’s the right one. Of course, the very fact that a decision needs to be made in this case means that the present course is not going well at all. So giving it odds of 50% is pretty optimistic.

Seeing the Future and Making the Tough Decisions

You gotta love the human spirit. And it’s love of the here and now.

Our natural fight-or-flight instinct helps us make difficult decisions. At least, it does when there’s a crisis right here, right now. But these aren’t difficult decisions and that instinct doesn’t help us make truly difficult decisions whose consequences are often somewhere down the road.

And that’s how you make the tough choices. You have to look into the future. Look down the road. And like a master chess strategist, you have to look at all the possible outcomes of each of your choices.

If the answer still isn’t apparent, then look a little further down the road or track back and see if there’s anything you missed along the way.

Luckily, it’s not a fight-or-flight situation. So take your time.

11 thoughts on “Making the Toughest Business Decisions You’ll Ever Have to Make”

  1. Thankyou Dana,

    I’d go with your odds any day!

    The only reason I give the “do nothing” strategy an optimistic 50% chance is because there are so many unknowables. I mean, you can walk into court with a smoking gun, a dozen witnesses, and a signed confession on your side and still lose … you never know 😉

    Course, “you never know” isn’t much of a strategy.

  2. Hi Shane,

    Stumbled it too (but came in through feed reader). This is a great article, and the thing is, it really applies to all decisions, not just business related ones. Keep up the good posts.

  3. Hey Jeremy,

    Thanks! Yeah, it absolutely applies to all decisions. I geared the post to business because the “toughness” of tough decisions is really amplified when there’s thousands or even millions of dollars riding on them.

    And they come up a lot for entrepreneurs because there’s so much that’s unknown when you’re diving in and making it up as you go along.

  4. I completely understand what you’re saying about making decisions. I may not have to choose from bad decisions, but my brother and I are having a hard time making many decisions for the business we want to start up! It’s risks we all must take.


  5. Hey Gregg,

    How big a risk, which risk, how many risks at once … all tough decisions, and very entrepreneurial ones. You’ve been doing fine so far from what I can see!

    Just look as far forward as you can when you’re having a tough time. If you see anything that scares you … well, that could be good thing 😉

  6. Hey Robin,

    It’s so true. As Dana pointed out, realistically, 50% is really pushing it. But you never know – haha. And that’s where the 50% chance really comes in.

  7. Indeed Shane.. Sometimes I get burnt out, but I just look forward and think about how I want my future…which usually makes me smile because I know I’ll be successful because I want it more than anything.

    All entrepreneurs have to take risks and that’s what separates us from the rest!

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