What hinders us making a business decision? What are the stumbling blocks? How can we overcome them more quickly?
The human mind hates uncertainty. Uncertainty implies volatility, randomness and danger. When we notice information is missing, our brain raises a metaphorical red flag and says: "Pay attention. This could be important." When data is missing, we overestimate its value. Our mind assumes that since we’re expending resources locating information, it must be useful.
Well, when I am under pressure to make a decision or there are too many issues to make a clear judgement it affects my sleep. And this last month a lack of sleep has been a prominent feature. That is just a vicious circle because a lack of sleep and stress affects your ability to think clearly and function at your optimum. The issues feel much bigger than they actually are late at night and, apart from laying awake thinking, there is very little productive action that you can take.
You can allow the lack of sleep and vicious circle of thought to overwhelm you or you can take stock and get tough with yourself, which is hard, or have someone around you to get tough. This is exactly the advice that I would offer to others and it’s advice that I have to suck up myself. Time off, time out of the office, time away from my phone, email, the internet, people and technology and the chance to clear your head and refresh your body.
A walk, a run, a swim or time with my family is the answer to all of this for me; an opportunity to regroup and get clarity. So much easier said than done but so much more beneficial. I am really lucky that I have a supportive family and partner who recognise when to get strict with me and take me away from it all.
Last week it was a ten-mile bike ride on the road to train for my triathlon at lunchtime, rather than grafting away hour after hour. It was the very firm words of my partner to say: “You will have to leave that phone and laptop there, come on we are going.”
The space, the exercise and fresh air clears your mind. You come back refreshed. Then I find that I can sit and prioritise, take the time to think through the options and solutions and then find the strength to implement them and of course follow it all up. I worked all night then but I was totally clear and focused. Find the activity that allows you to do the same.
We all have choices to make. And that choice is determined by a decision. I have had several months of making decisions and helping others with their decisions. As a franchisor I have tough decisions to make constantly, it can be so challenging at times. Fear hinders us making a decision, a lack of clarity hinders us making a decision, timing has an effect and opinions of others often impact on our decision.
So how can we make the right decision? It may be that the reason you cannot make a decision is because you are lacking in facts so when I return to my desk the first job is to get the facts and write them down. Get all the unanswered questions answered and exhaust all options because a full 360-degree way of thinking is needed here.
You need to write down all the worries and the fears and work out what is the worst thing that could happen – it’s almost a risk assessment. Change every fear and threat into an opportunity. Once this is completed you can make a decision. You have taken the time, you have found out all of the information and facts and the solution is the one that works best. Fabulous! Decision made. For me this month it has been about prioritising and creating clear thinking time to ensure that the right decisions are made.
I would imagine that the biggest headache for franchisors and franchisees now is the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on Friday May 25. They are listening to all the hype and getting scared. When fearful you are disabled and you can’t see the wood for the trees to put a strategy together. I put aside March as the month to immerse in GDPR, an audit of our data and the structure of processing data going forward as the franchisor and the guidance for our franchisees. I had to make time, I had to get facts, I had to implement and we're well on the way with the task of being compliant as an organisation.
I have observed lots of scaremongering and lots of baffled and confused business owners listening to speaker after speaker on this topic of GDPR. My advice is to take the bull by the horns make the decision to immerse into it and then get the job done. Yes, it is hard alongside the day to day running of the business but it feels so much easier once you are on task, clear and focused.
Franchisees that are on your prospect list might be as confused, disabled with fear and uncertainty about aspects of becoming part of your network or working with your business. Help them to see, help them to think and help them to get clear and answer their fears with facts. Here is to a productive month of decision-making for us all.