“I’m comfortable with seat of the pants decision-making.”
“It’s okay if I don’t have all of the answers when choosing an option.”
“I would prefer to move forward to seize the opportunity, knowing I can make any needed adjustments later.”
Your response to these statements tells you a lot about your approach to decision making. If you were thinking, “Yes!” “Yes!” “Yes!”, then you most likely have an appetite for the type of decision-making used in an entrepreneurial environment. If the thought of any of these makes you a bit queasy, then you might consider surrounding yourself with those who have this mindset to provide balance, or perhaps even rethink your approach to certain decisions.
Does this sound too cut and dried? I’m not suggesting you don’t gather facts, look at financial models and perform the logical steps of due diligence. However, where the typical well-intended leader gets into trouble and stubs their toe against entrepreneurial spirit, is the practice of overanalyzing when it’s not required.
Developing the Entrepreneurial Style
Between 1999 and 2010, I worked with hundreds of corporate executives coming out of large organizations who were toying with the idea of making a break from their all too familiar corporate life to start their own ventures.
In one of the workshops, they were given a list of questions developed by Entrepreneur.com akin to the three above. If they decided they were still interested in entrepreneurship after the initial tire kicking, they moved to the next phases of concept development and business planning.
It was telling to watch how they moved through this process and to observe what their approach to business planning itself revealed. Some developed a full business plan in two weeks and were ready to launch. While others just couldn’t stop gathering, consuming and evaluating research they felt would be warranted for a comfortable “GO” decision.
Guess what the longitudinal studies of this program showed about launch and staying power? Seventy-eight percent of those with a GO decision at the completion of the process were still in business and thriving five years later.
Example: Dave Girouard
The former President of Google’s Enterprise Apps division, Dave Girouard, now CEO of personal finance startup Upstart, used his decision-making savvy to grow Google’s enterprise apps division into a $1B+ global business. He says that decisions executed quickly are better than those agonized over. Girouard also claims that when tomorrow, next week or next month is the standard for how organizations handle decisions, precious time and momentum may be forfeited that could be invested on other strategic decisions.
Core Value: Entrepreneurial Spirit
If Entrepreneurial Spirit is a core value at your organization, it must pervade all areas – not just in product ideation and execution. Entrepreneurism is a way of thinking, doing and being – especially in decision-making.
1- Are you taking too much time to make decisions that can be made from a more “seat of the pants” approach? Honor your gut. Trust yourself.
2- Are you caught up in being too much of an information consumer instead of a decision creator? Let others tell you their opinions and rely on their expertise to tell you their thoughts on the decision, then make it. Or, even better, empower them to call the shot and move forward. Trust others.
3- Evaluate the price or cost of prolonged decision-making. What are you giving up in your quest for perfection? Develop a methodology that includes opportunities for adjustment, knowing that changes can be made along the way. Trust the process.
That’s solid decision making – entrepreneurial style.