Big Business Decision? Don’t Do This!

“Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.”

~ Malcolm Gladwell

Big Business Decision? Don’t Do This!

By Andrea Novakowski

My dad, who would have turned 95 tomorrow, was one of my greatest mentors. He had a quiet way about him: he led by example, instead of telling me what to do. Yet I knew I could always go to him whenever I needed advice about my business or my life, or if I had a tough decision to make. He’d listen to me and offer ideas if asked, but he’d never over-impose his own beliefs.

More and more lately, I’m reminded of the lessons I learned from my father. Many of my clients have been using our coaching sessions to discuss big decisions they’re facing or figure out whether to take advantage of opportunities. Drawing on what my dad taught me, below are five things not to do when making a business decision.

Making it all about the money. One of my clients, Bethany, works as a coach for creative entrepreneurs. She has a very profitable product she’s offered for a number of years — helping her clients handle the business side of entrepreneurship — but lately she’s realized she’s not enjoying it and isn’t sure why. Have her clients changed? Has the product gone stale? Is she simply bored with it? Bethany hadn’t taken time to dig into these issues because the product was so profitable.

  • Consider offering products that simultaneously energize you, provide a needed service, “and” bring in revenue.

Only listening to other people’s advice. Christopher, a marketing consultant, was trying to decide whether he should continue doing business on his own or merge with another company. Everyone he spoke with encouraged him to keep running his own business. With a few tweaks, he could get it to where it needed to be. But Christopher always walked away from these conversations feeling drained. Deep down, he knew he didn’t have the energy or desire to do what it took to “tweak” his business.

  • No one else knows the situation the way you do. Consider your own feelings, knowledge, and energy level first.

Leaping before you look. Eleanor had an opportunity to cut her expenses dramatically by moving out of state and into her parents’ empty house for one year. She could run her business from anywhere, so it made financial sense to jump at the offer. On the other hand, pulling up stakes would require a lot of coordination and effort from her and her husband. And they’d have to go through it all over again a year from now. Truth be told, she was dreading the hassle.

  • Due diligence is a must. A decision doesn’t happen in a vacuum — there are always ramifications. Take into consideration the effect of your decision on other areas of your business/life.

Not being able to say no. Frank, an accountant, spent much of last quarter working to remove himself from networking groups and charitable organizations that were no longer meaningful for him. But at our recent coaching session, he told me he’d been asked to chair the board of another charity. This was an organization he really cared about. Already, though, he knew he wouldn’t be able to give the position the attention it deserved without taking essential time away from his business. How could he do both?

  • When responding to requests, offer solutions that don’t require you to take the leading role. Say yes — but only to what you can realistically accomplish.

Forgetting to check in with your body. Are you the type of person who makes decisions from a purely analytical standpoint? Or do you tend to go with your gut — “It just doesn’t feel right”? How about a third approach: listening to your heart and making sure the decision aligns with your purpose, your mission, and your values?

  • Over and over again, I’ve found the best strategy for decision making is to check in with all three: your head, your heart, and your gut. Click here to read about ways to tap into your gut wisdom.

When you have a big decision to make, it’s important to think more broadly than you normally do. Create a decision-making checklist to ensure you’re not blindly following your old paths. Expand your perspective to include all the factors you can think of — both internal and external. Remember to use your mentors.

I was fortunate enough to have my father as a mentor, but a good business coach can be enormously helpful, too. Contact me for more information on how to get started.


What one thing do you try to remember when making important decisions? Please share below, so we can all learn together!