In your day-to-day business operations, how do you make decisions? Have you ever been under stress and made a less than optimal choice? Are people on your team empowered to make the call? Every business needs a framework for making decisions, for handling tough calls. By have a structure in place, the odds of making a good decision for your business are increased – an important advantage in the day-to-day chaos of business.

What is the most important item for your industry or sector?  The first step to an effective decision-making framework is to understand what is important to your business – and to you as the business owner – and why. What is unique about your business, and what situations could arise where failure to act (or act correctly) can be detrimental to your business? If you’re in the restaurant business, for example, you may think that service is your top priority. But what about safety, both of employees and of the food itself? How important is the quality of your service if you wrack customers with food poisoning?

If you had multiple conflicting issues – what takes priority? Pick the top three to five areas that are important to your business. Now, rank them and add specific reasons why they are in that order. Even if some are tied in importance, you’ll be able to start figuring out why they’re important. This will give you and your team a starting point for quick decisions if multiple problems occur simultaneously. Moving back to the restaurant example, which is based in my own experience, we decided on safety, quality, service, and profitability – in that order. If there is a spill in the dining area, that needs to be cleaned up immediately, even if we burn food. Likewise, serving a plate smiling and being polite was lower in priority (though not by much) than making sure the food was the best quality, correct portion and consistent with past experiences. We made an explicit call-out to profit, trusting that through prioritizing safety, quality and service and controlling our expenses that profitability would be the end result.

Live and reward people using the process: Following a predetermined decision-making model cannot be optional. The framework must be in place at all levels of a business, ensuring consistency and reliability. Empowerment of employees to make decisions is important so that the load can be shared, and no one person becomes a bottleneck in the process. Rewarding good decisions and teaching through poor ones sets your business up for a successful future. The right decision is an opportunity for recognition, the wrong decision is a learning experience. The worst path is making no decisions, and having a system in place to help you figure out the direction to take your business is beneficial to your bottom line.

Think through: Decision making should be as free as possible from the emotion and chaos of day-to-day business in order to preserve the “why” and “how” that make each decision matter. Having a plan and multiple points to refer to is just as important as teamwork and communication, but making decisions for your business effectively requires all of the above.

Small Business

About the Author:

Gregory Woloszczuk is an Entrepreneur and experienced tech executive that helps small business owners grow their top and bottom line. Gregory believes in straight talk and helping others see things they need to see but may not want to with a focus on taking responsibly for one’s own business. He and his wife, Maureen, started GMW Carolina in 2006.

Gregory has been fortunate to have been part of building teams for companies that went through hyper-growth as well as his own company. He also has experience in working through economic downturns and taking responsibility to fix what is in his control. The focus has always been working with partners, customers, and building a successful business channel. His range of experience includes marketing, sales, support, training, and operations.

Gregory holds an MBA from Nichols College.