Nobody said owning a business would be easy

By Jim Kendall

This column originally appeared in the July 14, 2014 Daily Herald



Decisions are difficult.

* Will putting time and money into a social media campaign really grow the business?

* Fire Mike? His family needs the income and he was recommended by an employee, but Mike can’t get a handle on his duties. How much damage will he do if I keep him on?

* We need more space, but that’s more overhead. Will we be that much more efficient?

* An offer to buy the business came out of the blue. What should I do? Accept? Seek other potential buyers? Talk to a lawyer?

There’s no doubt that decisions can be tough, but neither is there any doubt that business owners must make them – everyday.

“Step back,” suggests Gail Sussman-Miller. “Look at the big picture. Look at how the decision fits your business’ mission – and your personal mission.

“If money were no object, what would you really want to do?”

A conversation with Sussman-Miller, chief obstacle buster at Inspired Choice, Chicago, is at least interesting and potentially downright helpful. She won’t make your decisions, but she offers some interesting thoughts on how to approach the process.

“Most people have trouble asking for help (in the decision-making process),” Sussman-Miller says. In fact, she adds, “Not asking for help is a small business weakness. Our ego gets in the way. We don’t want to appear stupid.” But, she asks with a nod to TV’s Dr. Phil, “How is what you’re doin’ working for ya?”

Pause for a moment: That’s a key question.

The fear of making the wrong decision can be paralyzing, but keep in mind, Sussman-Miller says, that doing nothing is a decision. “A decision to not act is one of the choices,” she states.

An option, Sussman-Miller says, is to ask for help – from a mentor, specialist in your industry or professional advisor. Another is to detach. “Don’t personalize the issue,” she says. “Detach.

“Put on a white lab coat, pick up a clipboard and pen, and observe your behavior. Remember another time when you had to make a decision.

“The mind will always over think an issue. Disconnect your mind. Find some silence to quiet your mind and sort out any emotions that are present.

“Take five deep breaths. Inhale through the nose, then exhale through the mouth. That stops the chatter. That calms us, gets us centered.”

Even the most uncertain decision-maker has strengths, Sussman-Miller says. “Remember the times when you did something courageous.” Sussman-Miller, who admits to a fear of heights, walked San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, which at mid-span is about 270 feet above the water.

You may not have a trek across a bridge to fall back on when one of those difficult decisions must be made, but Sussman-Miller’s point is valid: if you’ve done something difficult before, call upon that experience to help you make the business decision you’re facing today.


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