What Should I Do?

July 2, 2015

In every small business there are crossroads. The most successful entrepreneurs assess and forge a path. Others struggle to see the end of the paths clearly, wanting to bet on the sure thing. (Don’t we all?)

Probably the worst situation is being stuck at those crossroads, moving no further due to indecision and fear. Out of all the things I’ve ever read or experienced about dealing with indecision, three different drives of indecision really stay with me. The first is that indecision can really be an action issue, not a lack of information. This means that no matter how much data there is or what type of pro and con list you make, you won’t come any closer to making a decision, because something else is wrong. I read a Forbes article once about how a man’s fear of taking his company even larger actually stemmed from the fact that the executive staff was made up of his fraternity brothers and he knew they couldn’t handle the additional responsibilities. He was torn between loyalty to friends and wise-business decisions.

The unpleasant reality is that many vending operations are family businesses where business decisions may be complicated by emotional or familial relationships.

Indecision can also be part of a culture. Ever sit in a meeting where a new idea is presented, the boss gives it the green light, no one says anything, but 6 months later it’s gone? No one actually said we aren't going to do it, it just sort of died in the details. The Harvard Business Review talked about this specific type of work culture of indecision stemming from a lack of free and valued communication. No one brought up their reservations at the idea stage, instead giving false agreement to move forward with a project that is ultimately undone by unspoken factors and inaction.

Mistakes make you human

The fear of being a failure, letting your family/employees down or just looking stupid after a business decision is another big indecision driver. It can literally petrify people into a complete lack of action. At those times, I like what Henry Ford, an American industrialist, had to say, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

My advice to you is this: we all make mistakes. Do your research, trust your gut and have faith you will be able to adapt to the results that come from you changing the course of your business. More often than not, the correct path is evident, even if something about it is unpleasant.