Know When to Trust Your Business Instincts

Date posted: October 16, 2012

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you a “go with the gut” kind of entrepreneur, acting on gut instincts when you make business decisions? Or are you the detail-oriented type, who likes to gather the facts, make pro and con lists and assess all the options before decision making?

Personally, I’m the former. But whether you’re an information-seeker or operate on gut instincts, the best approach to decision making in your business is to find the middle ground.

Relying too much on your gut instincts can spur you to jump into opportunities that aren’t all they’re made out to be, act rashly or make choices you’ll regret later. But ignoring your gut instincts can lead to equally damaging mistakes and missed opportunities. How can you balance the two in your decision making?

If you’re a gut instincts person:

  • Do your homework. If you’re considering partnering with another business, for example, research their expertise, management and reputation.
  • Get other opinions. If you only listen to your gut when decision making, you might not hear others pointing out the flaws in the opportunity. Poll your friends and colleagues and listen to what they say.
  • Have options. Sometimes the data you’ll gather aren’t conclusive, or you want to ignore them and just go on gut. Be sure to have a backup plan if what your gut’s telling you to do doesn’t work out the way you expect.

If you’re a data person:

  • Know when to stop. Most data-gatherers can research something for months on end…long after the opportunity to act has passed. Set a reasonable deadline for yourself, get the information you need for decision making and then stop.
  • Consider the source. Some information is more valuable than others. Don’t get bogged down in small details—focus on the big picture.
  • Tune in. Research types often tune out their guts. When you’re done gathering info, spend some time alone—just you and your gut—and tune in to how you feel (not what you think) about the decision.

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