Business decision making for entrepreneurs

It can be lonely running a business. Customers, team members, shareholders, regulators – all looking to you to deliver to their expectations.

Expectations mean decisions. And decisions aren’t always easy nor is the right answer obvious. But decisions must be made. Business decision-making for entrepreneurs is a big part of the job.

So how can Kenwell help? We help you analyse these decisions within the context of your personal GAME Plan.

We do this by helping you break down decisions and have a process that ensures that these decisions are made in a manner that fits within your goals and values, that we identified in the GAME Plan process.


Business decision making for entrepreneurs

Decisions involve two important criteria which can be hard to measure and even harder to assess. Whatever the decision, you need as much objective data as you can. A famous example of this is back in the 1970s when then US Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara demanded everything about the war be measured. He was obsessed with statistics and data to make the right strategic decisions. And, it is true ‘what gets measured, gets done.’

In business, it can sometimes be a challenge to measure or obtain all the data you need. In my experience though, too many entrepreneurs rely on ‘gut’ instinct (more on that later) rather than objectifying the issue facing them through good data.


Data is only half the equation

Except some decisions have input that can’t be quantified. McNamara was reminded of this when a colleague told him some data was missing. ‘The feelings of the Vietnamese people. You can’t reduce that to a statistic.’

Data is only half the equation though. You need to estimate the probability of a given outcome, and the impact this has. The probability is hard to estimate, let alone intuit. We evolved in the savannahs to determine life or death decisions. There is a lion – if I run, I live. If I stay, I die. Binary choices with 100% probability.

It’s not easy putting effort into something you are only 70% sure about (let alone being able to even say you are 70% sure!). It is easier to work on something that you think has a 100% chance of success. Unfortunately, this cavalier attitude towards risk leads to overconfidence, stubbornness and ignoring warning signs until it is too late.


Decisions don’t always involve change

In decision-making, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. It’s especially true for entrepreneurs – we have a bias for action.

It is a sign of maturity to be able to make conscious decisions to do nothing. Not out of laziness, or lack of care, but because after you have gathered the data and assessed the probabilities, you decide to take no action.

We see this often as a financial life planner when it comes to investment changes. Often much of our advice to our clients – especially in times of high turmoil – is to do nothing. Don’t try and trade, or time the market. In fact, in investing, there is a very strong negative correlation between the frequency of trading and the returns investors get. Yep, the more they traded, the worse their return was.

The data tells the story. In the US, over the past ten years, the average equity investor earned 4.88%.

Not bad?

Well, the S&P 500 average nearly double at 8.5% pa over the same time! In other words, all that effort only resulted in losing money compared to doing nothing but staying the course.

There are several reasons for this, but mostly they boil down to investors trying to outsmart, or ‘time’ the market. People are pretty poor at this because they make decisions based on gut feel, emotions and lack of data.

That doesn’t mean emotions are not important. In fact, in decision-making, they are critical, as long as you can link your emotions back to your values.

Personal values provide an essential framework on which to align the decisions you will need to make. Is the likely outcome of a decision fall within this framework?


Using your Values as a Decision Framework

Using your values as a decision framework allows you to reject ‘either/or’ or ‘both/and’ as a paradigm for assessing decisions. Is there a high probability that the outcome of a decision will run congruent with your values, or give you more of what you seek? For example, my financial planning business in Australia had a motto ‘Because life is for living.’ This guided all of us in everything we did, and it is an approach we have carried on to Kenwell Financial Life Planners

This seemingly innocuous statement contained a lot of power. It stopped us from seeing money only as a measure of financial wealth. Instead, it reminded us that it existed as an enabler for our clients to live the life they dreamed of.

When I was in my teens, I pledged to myself that I was never going to spend a huge proportion of my life doing something I hated just to get money. I would rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable.

A couple of years later I was unemployed and arguing with my future father-in-law about this very thing. Naturally enough, he was concerned that his daughter was set to marry an unemployed bum. He thought I was naïve, and he was right, but so was I.

I was determined to find another way to achieve my dreams and I knew there had to be a third way, which would allow me to be happy and to earn a very good living to provide for all my dreams and desires. Punching the clock to grind out a living was not for me.

What I know now is there is always a third way, no matter what the situation. Much of the business success I have enjoyed is due to, instead of accepting a paradigm of ‘either/or’, I’ve sought to embrace a ‘both/and’ and used this to try and find a third way. Margins are being squeezed so we need to cut costs or raise prices? Why not find a way where we can re-align our services on what our clients want and still cut prices but improve our margin at the same time?

No, not when the market itself is crying out for change.You find the third way. How do I innovate and keep a strong, compliant business to protect myself and my customers?

How can Kenwell help with these business decisions?

As we have seen, most of the challenges with business decisions come from:

  • Having the right data
  • Assessing the probabilities for an outcome
  • Protecting against your own unconscious biases
  • Finding a ‘third way’ that aligns with your values.

The role of your Kenwell Financial Life Planner is to both guide and critique you through these steps. Just the mere presence of someone that is on your side – not trying to sell you a solution – improves your chances of success.

More than that though, we check our progress by regularly measuring Your Financial Wellbeing. You can complete this free scorecard today to see where you sit right now!

Why not contact us today to find out more about creating your own GAME Plan?