It has been said that good decisions come from experience, and experience typically comes from bad decisions. Fortunately, history is riddled with examples of good and bad decisions that we can all learn from and apply to our own situations, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel of bad luck.
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There are certain decisions a founder is responsible for (hint: pretty much all of them until the company grows). The number of options regarding pricing, marketing, product development, suppliers and distribution channels that come across your desk — or virtual workspace nowadays — is enough to tack on a distinguished look of (unwanted) gray hair.
However, don’t get frazzled into thinking you need to grow your company overnight. Be patient. There are certain decision criteria that withstand the test of time that any organizational leader can adopt for one’s own. Here are four of them.
1. Don’t hire friends or family.
Working amidst uncertainty is one thing, but when it comes to onboarding, don’t hire people close to you. It’s human nature to inject bias into a decision when faced with hard choices against someone you care about. There’s a reason for the old saying to never do business with friends or family, and it’s because nothing — the business or the relationships — rarely turn out well. Set yourself and the business up for success by removing subjectivity as much as possible.
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2. Hire for fit.
These are the mathematicians, scientists and other far-left brain folk who can cite the first 100 numbers after the decimal of pi but put their shoes on backwards. Having smarts is important, but competence can be learned — chemistry cannot. A good rule of thumb is this: Hire for character, train for competence, coach for performance. If you follow this approach, you can’t go wrong.
3. Surround yourself with more experienced people.
This may be breaking news to some, but there are smarter people out there from whom we can all learn. I once heard somebody say that we are the average of our five closest friends, which I do agree with. However, the same rule applies in a business setting — if you’re the smartest of the bunch, then how are you improving (other than feeding your ego)?
4. Identify a single source of accountability.
There’s an old saying that goes, “If everybody’s accountable, then nobody’s accountable.” It’s to easy to pass the buck and finger-point when there’s more than one source of accountability. To identify the difference between accountability, responsibility and authority, consider the following criteria: Authority entails overall decision-making power; being accountable means overseeing and therefore managing that decision; responsibility means reporting the progress of tasks associated with that decision.
Be deliberate about your decision-making. There will be plenty of opportunities to shine amidst the pressure of the moment that compel you to make hasty decisions.
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