All of us have heard at some point in time, “just go with your instinct”! What does that really mean? And is it OK to use your intuition for business?
People in my surroundings know I am fond of stating, “Trust your gut, and back it up with data!” We may not always understand why we have sudden “this feels good” feelings or a “get away from this” notions. I belief it is our unconscious telling us to put our feelers out and learn more about it.
Based on past experience, business owners can make quick decisions because they have been in a similar situation and know what works (or not). For example, when you have been in enough negotiations, you know exactly when you have the upper hand and how to move forward. I have named this experience intuition.
But what about insights we cannot base on experience? That is when you should dig a little deeper, do research and take time before making the decision. Part of this research is collecting information but even more so is reflecting on the situation. Such contemplation includes looking at your business with a fresh set of eyes, tracing patterns of your (team’s) behaviour, and gathering your inner thoughts that may never have seen daylight as of yet. I dubbed this insight intuition.
Alongside intuition, start-ups need optimism. Feeling doomed at every step that didn’t work out the way you intended, is killing your intuition and stops founders taking any kind of risk.
Start-ups need to be able to pivot quickly. Intuition and calculated risk-taking help you tremendously to make decisions – when done smartly.
These five criteria help you qualify “smartly”.
- Leaders must recognize whether they make the decision based on experience intuition or because they have insight intuition and act accordingly.
- Have a set of filters. Almost everyone has filters, though we are not always aware of them. Acquaint yourself with yours. Note that you want only a limited set of filters and they can be a combination of personal and business.
- Be confident to make a decision. Making endless lists with pros and cons only makes a decision so much harder to take. Once taken, take a back seat and react only when needed. Made the wrong decision? That’s a learning point, so dust off your confidence and move on.
- Become an observer. What happened in a similar situation with your competitor? How is your team behaving? What is not being said in an important meeting? Why is no company responding to the gap in the market?
- Have the right team around you. Intuitive people are often thinkers, risk-takers and fast movers. Have practical go-getters, careful members and others around you that give you honest feedback at a moment’s notice.
With these five criteria start-up leaders can make quick decisions based on a combination of intuition, research and common sense.
As Founder of Kaleidoscope and Business Mentor, Lisette Andreyko works with start-ups on gaining strategic focus. She is passionate about leadership development in start-ups.