I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine last week where he mentioned that he still gets quite nervous when he needs to make decisions, especially in a small business setting because the impact of decisions made in this space is often greater on the business as a whole than decisions made in larger organisations. This is especially so when it comes to adopting new software, changing processes, or making a decision on marketing and advertising spending.
I thought I would share a quick summary of our conversation because I think this is something that many small business owners experience on a daily basis. In this post, I am going to share five questions that you need to ask yourself when making decisions as a small business owner.
You’ll see that these questions are closely related to a post I shared previously.
1. What am I trying to achieve?
Basically, what are your goals and why are you doing this? Are you trying to increase your leads, increase brand awareness, increase online sales? When setting these goals, it is always advised to use the SMART principle. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Remember also that your goals need to be in line with your overall company goals or objectives. Have a look at this post to read more about setting goals for your small business.
2. What do I have available that can help me achieve this goal?
After establishing exactly why you are doing what you are doing and what you want to achieve, you need to look at the processes, tools, channels, and resources that are currently available to you that you can use to achieve this goal. You will often find that you already have quite a lot to work with when you change the way that you look at what you are already doing.
3. What do I need to achieve this goal?
If it turns out that you already have what you need, then you can stop at question 2 and shift your focus to optimising what you have. This could come in the form of trying out a new feature in the software that you are using or looking at why your current processes and procedures aren't delivering the results you are looking for. For example, does the existing email marketing platform that you use offer a CRM functionality? Is the contact form on your website too bulky? could changing the location or delay of your newsletter sign up pop-up increase subscriptions?
If the processes, tools, channels, and resources that you currently have available cannot help you achieve your goals, what can? Do you need to sign up for a new email marketing solution that offers CRM functionalities? Do you need to subscribe to a pop-up plug-in for your website? Do you need to consider lead generation forms in the social space?
4. Is it possible for my business to get this or make use of this?
Here, we are primarily talking about finances. Often, the tools that will help you get where you want to be are quite expensive or your idea of what you need to do to achieve your goal requires skills that you don’t have, which means that you will need to outsource.
5. What can I do with what I have?
Lastly, if your answer to question number 4 is no, what can you do with what you have that will have the same effect as the answer to question number 3? This is where your Google skills and sheer determination is going to make all the difference. The wealth of information available in the form of tutorial videos and articles will help you bridge the gap. You will also often find free templates and downloadables that (with a bit of manual labour) can help you get where you need to be.
Generally, I find that this kind of thinking (or asking yourself these questions) helps to organize your thoughts and help you first evaluate if you need to optimise what you have before adding more channels and spending more money. A little bit of creativity can go a long way.
Resources are a limitation for most small businesses. The aim of this exercise is to look at optimizing what you have first before considering adding more and spending more. But, you can’t optimize if you don’t know what you are optimizing for, so you first need to determine what you want to achieve. Asking yourself these questions will help you make more decisive decisions and plan for the impact that they will have on your business.