How To Make Tough Decisions

When facing a major business decision, use the time-tested Benjamin Franklin methodology.  

Big decisions can be tough to make because we don’t own a crystal ball to see into the future and it’s easy to go in circles in our own mind. Further, not all consequences—both good and bad—can be predicted. And since most entrepreneurs live in a state of overwhelm already, it’s important to have a trusted process for making important decisions quickly.   

If you’re not familiar with the process, start by creating two lists on a single sheet of paper: Pros and Cons. Next, write down every PRO for making a decision or moving ahead, and all the potential downsides (Cons) as well.  Give yourself a few days to process this list and allow your mind to think of new pros and cons as they come to you. Get input on the list from people you trust and add their ideas to your list.  

Next, give a weight to each pro and each con—after all, one BIG pro can easily outweigh a few minor cons and vice versa. Then tally up both sides and it will become obvious just how risky your decision is or whether the pros outweigh the cons. If nothing else, this process will force you to get all the questions out of your head and onto a piece of paper where they can be evaluated. In the end, you have the information you need to make a final decision. Just remember there is no way any of us can guess all the variable pros and cons to any decision—and since you can’t steer a parked car, MAKING a decision is the only way you can truly know if you made the right one or not.  

 Franklin is credited with the two-column pro and con list method of making decisions, and people have used it for centuries. While simplistic, it’s an easy and effective technique that works.   

When you finally announce your new direction or decision to your staff, just tell them that you talked to your business consultant “Ben,” and he is in 100% agreement with what you chose to do.  

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