Business Management – The Paralysis Analysis Disease of Indecision Making

In business decision making is a very important skill for the manager or executive to have. A person who can make the right decisions and make them quickly will have a fast track to the top corporate office.However, in today’s business world many executives and managers find the ability to make decisions very difficult. There are many reasons why this can happen. It can be the result of a lack of confidence in one’s ability or it can be a result of receiving the wrong or inaccurate information. It can also be a result of poor management or training. One persuasive factor is that a lot of managers get buried in the huge amounts data, analysis and research findings that many organisations produce these days.With all this information that is at their disposal it is very easy for managers and executives today to become bogged down with what is called paralysis by analysis. The overloading of information creates procrastination because there is always another piece of information needed to make the perfect decision. This type of thinking is best avoided because in the real world there is no such thing as waiting for the perfect decision because it does not exist. Waiting for more information is a waste of time. Time is money in business and decisions need to be made based on the best information that is at hand. There is no point in delaying matters if the delay will actually cost more than the outcome of the decision.It is very easy to put things off. However, if action is delayed then the information and data will have to reviewed again. During the delay the business environment may have changed which may require the update of more information and the vicious cycle continues. If a decision is taken that did not result in the desired outcome then the damage will be limited by the action being taken quickly. Also mistakes provide valuable information of things to avoid in the future.In order to make decisions quickly and effectively a manager or executive needs to be able to identify the difference between facts and information. Data is basically a compilation of facts and other people’s opinions on certain matters. Information also includes facts however, these are presented in a format that will assist you to make business decisions. The real key difference between information and facts is the value it provides. When you are looking through data get into the habit of how this data can provide you with value.

Surviving the Holidays – Advice to the Small Business Manager

The best-kept secret of our times is that the Christmas holidays are filled with extreme stress. There is a veneer of good cheer, anticipation and good will towards all. The children are told this is the happiest time of the year and of course in some ways it truly is a happy time. Of late the veneer is wearing perilously thin.In addition to some of the largest and most destructive winter storms on record (this seems to happen every winter anyway) the economy hangs in the balance, people hate Congress, the presidential candidates are squeezing out Santa because of the early primaries and crazed gunmen seem to be bent on killing worshipers who come out of church. The nation is bickering over war, health care and national policies while a very large number of families slide deeper and deeper into poverty and the whole world threatens to go up in flames.As the novelist put it long ago, these are the best of times and the worst of times. It has been thus at Christmas time for many years, or so it seems.Behind the merry happy scenes are worries, many of which run to economics. Families find Christmas financially dangerous. Spending goes up and work hours often go down. Businesses struggle with broken schedules, uncertain deliveries and unpredictable shopping patterns. Retailers watch a huge percentage of their annual sales hanging in the balance during November and December. Managers brace for the worst when it comes to employee dependability, overtime issues, ice days, competition and consumer attitudes.Here is advice to the small business manager, whether you are running a business at home, managing a family business, running somebody else’s business or managing some part of a much larger business.First: resist any temptation to think about the world situation, the national situation or problems going on in other states. Insulate yourself from politics and from stories about national tragedies. The golden rule for surviving stressful situations is only worry about those problems you can solve!Second: compartmentalize your mind to mesh with your schedule. When you are not working do not think about work. When you must close down early close down your mind, too. If family and social obligations interfere with business go and be an enthused family member and socially involved participant. Fretting and stewing about all those lost business hours won’t change anything except to make you grouchy and irritable.Third: detach. Your business responsibilities, no matter how great, are not the most important thing on earth and you are not God. Getting stressed will simply make you even less efficient than the situations you can’t control are already making you.Fourth: give some leadership. Managers at every level can and should lead. Talk to your employees and all other associates openly about the problems you are having and listen to their replies. Leadership starts with listening and with being honest. Give your employees, colleagues, customers, clients, vendors and family members the chance to explain themselves and to hear your concerns. Search for the best solutions together: leaders work with those they lead. Pretend that the holiday season is like a flood: the best chance of surviving is to work together.Fifth: if you must travel this season, make sure to rest, concentrate and enjoy the trip as much as possible. Do not use alcohol to relax. Traveling away from home when you know you should be at work is a very dangerous frame of mind. It’s your mind, only you can change that frame of mind. So change it: cancel the trip or get on board with the trip and put the business responsibilities out of mind until you are back and can do something about them.Sixth: figure out a way to get some exercise every day and to vent out your pent-up frustration. Otherwise you’ll be tempted to take it out on loved ones or to fly into a tantrum at some driver who shouldn’t be on the road.Finally: Christmas comes only once each year. We can all say a prayer of thanks for that! But because it comes only once there is only one chance to do it well and the chance is right now. There is no going back to do Christmas over. For everything there is a time, whether we want it to be so or not. This is the time for Christmas, no matter how tough that might be for business. (Of course it’s not tough for business if you are in the Christmas tree business. Your time for patience comes next!).Look at the bargains that lie before you, Mr. or Ms. Business Leader. Listening is free. Patience does not cost anything. Kindness brings back a hundredfold return in gratitude. Giving and sharing are priceless. Love is a treasure, no down payment required. Say what you will, if there were no Christmas we would invent it! In the end, no matter how large the headaches and how much the hassle, the holidays when done properly are good business and good for business!Take a page from Santa. He’s making his list and checking it twice. As the manager-leader make your holiday plan and be sure to check it twice!

Small Business Managers – Stay Current and Do Your Research

“Oh, sure!” you might reply, “all that spare time.”Therein lies a trap: staying current and doing research are not activities reserved only for those managers who are not constantly busy. Most, if not all managers, are constantly busy. Small business managers are usually much too busy. The temptation is to consider staying current with the profession and doing research relating to your product, services and costs of doing business as something not necessary or not possible. Try telling the family farmer that it is not necessary to watch market prices and continually research market trends for his or her crops! Try telling that to the folks raising catfish or the business manager who plans to purchase a faster printing press for the county newspaper.Being uninformed becomes a source of stress. It is nerve-wracking to be uninformed about matters pertaining to the future of the very business you are managing.Every small business manager needs to stay current: what innovations are being introduced in your industry? What kind of advice is the leadership in your professional organization giving? You do belong to a professional organization, don’t you? That’s one easy way to stay current: attend the gatherings and read the newsletter. You pay dues so that the organization can keep you current.Research? What research? Market research, regulatory research, and any possible changes that could impact your business. These would include changes in the tax code, safety and environmental regulations, reporting regulations (which seem to be forever changing) any new competition, customer satisfaction, changes in the interest rate and ideas that could lead you to make a better mousetrap or at least improve the mousetrap you already market.The smaller the business, the easier it is to stay current and do research. The reason for this is that you can take shortcuts by being informal. For example: look around your world for the person who does exceptionally well what you do. This might be the local legend, the person everyone talks about as being the best. Interview this person as to what they might have learned over the years that you should know about.Perhaps this person knows a website of information to tell you about, saving you hours of Internet searching. Perhaps they go about things in some different way that works for them and could work for you. The most sincere form of flattery is imitation. The second most sincere form of flattery is the interview: what is this person’s opinion about a specified problem or trend or trade practice? What is their secret of success? Even better, if the person is retired, what do they have to share with you as they look back?The number one reason why successful people do not share their secrets is because they are not asked! The number one reason they are not asked is because their peers do not observe them closely and study what they do.Another shortcut to market research: ask one person every day what they know about your product or service. Then ask them for advice. Write it down. Make sure you ask a different person every day. At the end of each month read what you have written down.At the end of every phone conversation with your customers ask them if they have any advice for your business. Jot it down and read those notes at the end of the month. It’s not that you need to do everything or anything that you are advised to do. Rather, coming through those bits and pieces of replies will be a picture of what people think of your product and services, their impressions. That tells you what kind of image you have out there, if any. It will set you to thinking. It is information that does not cost anything and only requires a few minutes each day to gather. It gets you listening, observing, thinking and concentrating about what can be done to improve.There are four sets of people from whom feedback is important. These are your peers, your customers, your employees and the public at large. Except for occasional complaints, you will get almost no feedback unless you ask, listen and thank these persons for their comments.That is how to stay current and do research in the world of small business. Most surprisingly, when you do these simple things you will discover yourself listening to the news more intently, reading the newspaper and newsletters more thoughtfully and waking up with new ideas about how to improve, protect or modify your business plans and practices.And you won’t stressed out wondering what potentially harmful developments are happening that you don’t know about. In due time you will become the legend!