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Tips, advice, and information for South African business owners

04 Mar

How To Do Nothing Well

How do you solve indecision? In business, indecision leads to inaction, doing nothing.  Here’s a better way to “do nothing” well, without being indecisive.

If you’re an entrepreneur, I’m sure you’ve been through a few tough decisions and struggled to make a choice. Or wearing your marketing and sales hat, you know the scenario: you’ve put your offer on the table and it’s clear to you how your customer will benefit. (Of course you will also benefit, but selling isn’t about you.) But every time you follow up, it seems there’s another reason to delay the decision. Their vacillation leads to doing nothing, and the longer they do nothing the harder it is to do anything.

As time passes, not deciding becomes a decision in itself.  Sometimes, doing nothing can work out well, but you don’t want it to be the default option, because indecision costs money.  Almost every worthwhile opportunity is time-sensitive.  An explicit deadline makes the urgency obvious – indecision seldom hangs out with clear deadlines.

Instead, we’re more likely to sit on the fence when the window of opportunity is not obvious and when the value to be earned from the deal shrink imperceptibly.  It’s here where the cost of doing nothing – whether its hard cash or a lost opportunity – can not only cost your business, but cost you lost wealth as the business owner.

So how do we get unstuck from delaying a difficult decision?  Here’s a technique I often find helps me and my clients to get on with it: whether you’re deciding between one option or 100 options, include option zero – the option to do nothing – in your starting line-up of options.

Whatever tools you use to make your decision, apply them to option 0 as well.  If you use cost-benefit analysis, for example, measure the costs and measure the benefits of doing nothing.  This becomes your baseline that all other options need to beat.  When building your business case for each of the other options, the costs of doing nothing become their benefits.

Then after analysing each option, if option 0 is the last survivor, make a decision and stop pretending to decide.

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