BIG Decision Making in SMALL Business

goals strategy May 28, 2019


UPDATED: July 2021 

Data Vs. Experience in Decision Making

For thousands of years, business owners made decisions based on their prior knowledge - the data in their minds. Within the past 15-20 years, the digital age has shifted decision making to lean exclusively on hard data. It makes sense. Your ability to set goals and plans based on data can significantly shorten the testing time. The guesswork is removed. 

As it is with so many other shifts during the digital age, we may have reached a point of going a little too extreme. Yes, data is vital to decision making. Is it the exclusive way to identify patterns and make wise decisions?  I don't think so. 


A recent survey of business decision makers presented some very interesting results.

"86.8% of respondents report that their work environment is in constant flux or lacking clear correct decisions, and 40% say that they’re motivated to change their decision making process because of changing market conditions."


While we absolutely lean on data here at Beckmann Collaborative in our decision making, it's vital to hold on to our key instincts based on life/work experience. This survey by Alpha, a product testing and development company based in New York, found that the central lesson is that "while having data is certainly necessary for good decision making, it’s by no means sufficient."

Measuring Business Success

How do you measure success in your business?  Is it solely based on financial outcomes?  The survey found that "82.9% of respondents say that their companies measure the success of a decision by the outcome that is achieved."  And these are the SAME decision makers who feel that there is a lack of clear correct decision making.  Hmmm...  So what is the problem?

The decisions made in your company reflect the success or lack of success of your business. What if only the executive team is making decisions? Is that the best way to grow and develop the business? Is that really the most productive approach? 

Spend 15 minutes doing research into the most successful businesses. In this case, I am defining success as those having long-term growth, profit, and staying open for a long time. The MOST SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES have several things in common.

The area that I find most interesting is the team. Those businesses who have invested in hiring the right team members, trained those people, given them a certain level of autonomy, and invited their feedback/decision making are by far the most successful. 


Statistic from Alpha's Survey


Decision Making in Small Business

There is a huge opportunity for small business decision makers focused on growing their company or organization. You are still small. You can change things much more easily when the team is small, and the impact of those changes will be even bigger on your organization. 


1. Know Your Company Culture First

As the business owner, you have a set of core values that show up in your business and your personal life. These may include integrity, respect, creativity, curiosity, data-driven decision making, or any number of other possible values. Apply these values to all aspects of your business.

For example, Integrity is a core value so you always pay vendor bills on time, you treat everyone with equal respect, and the quality of your product meets or exceeds expectations. 


2. Hire Based on Company Culture

The point of company culture is not to force your own ideals on others but to hire people based on those values so that they fit in and align with you. When you are reading resumes or conducting interviews, have those core values readily available as reference points.

You may find yourself thinking, "this one candidate has incredible skills, but she may clash with me and other team members because she does not seem to value curiosity in work the way we do."  It creates a wonderful filter for you successfully decide who is best to hire. 


3.  Invest in Your Team

The median tenure for workers age 25 to 34 is 3.2 years, according to The Balance Careers. One of the top reasons for young employees to leave a job is a lack of investment in their career development. 

Millennials and Gen Z are hungry for knowledge and professional development opportunities. They want to grow into those bigger manager and executive positions. However, higher education has not been satisfying the baseline requirements for preparing tomorrow's leaders.

Now, more than ever, it is up to us employers to invest in the education and training of our team members. If we want to keep great team members, it means investing in their ongoing learning and development. 


Decision makers need the right data, the best team structure, and strong company culture to be the most successful. It takes a combination of the right human resources, analytics, and tools to make the right business decisions. 


How Do We Proceed?

If you need support with your hiring process or defining company culture, connect with an experienced HR Consultant like Susan Yenzer of Advancing Performance

Maybe you already have a great team in place, but want support with professional development training. That is where Beckmann Collaborative can be of support to you. Schedule a complimentary strategy session to get started. 




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