Decision-making in Startups: It’s Not Just About Data

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Decision-making in Startups? Not as Easy As You Think!

In an increasingly competitive world of innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs, you’ll find more and more founders asking for the “how-to” guide. And while there is a commentary on what chatbot to go with and what your email signature should look like, decision making is one of those things in start-up culture that isn’t clear.

There is no manual.

So, then – how should founders make decisions? The good news: that is for you to decide. It’s your road trip, if you will, and you get to make the turns. The bad news? One wrong turn in this entrepreneurial landscape can stop the car, and – spoiler alert here – almost every turn is the wrong one.

This puts an even greater emphasis on making the best decision – large and small – at any given time. And for those decisions, founders should rely on both the data and the bigger picture.

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Data in Decision-making

Let’s start with using data for decision making. Whether you’re deciding on where to invest your efforts or where to place the button on the landing page, data collection is absolutely fundamental for informing decisions.

However, start-up founders can often be notorious for getting too caught up in what their data is telling them. It becomes too easy to just put their head down, work with the best productivity apps, and grind based on data and results – only to find themselves down an entirely different path having veered off from the original problem. They fail to take a step back. They fail to set SMART goals. In fact, they fail to set any goals. They fail to see the bigger picture.

Let’s give an example. You set out to sell your product B2B. But after weeks of early sales and data collection, you realize you are actually more suited to cater towards B2C.

Some leaders would use that data to “fix” the B2B channel because they have no interest in B2C. “That’s not what we are set out to do,” they might say. But they’ve got blinders on. It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. Do you see the problem with this scenario? Because many founders can’t.

Perspective in Decision-making

Start-up founders often have an idea for a business because they are passionate. They might be solving a problem or they might just be creating something awesome. There’s a good chance they know a thing or two about the space, their product, and those most interested in their ideas.

Whatever a founder’s motivation, they sometimes need to retrace the route of their original path and remember what exactly they set out to do. Then step back. Has that original idea shifted? Great – then refocus. Develop a “bigger picture” mindset – and have a better perspective from which to base decisions and directions off of.

Decision-making: A Skill and a Process

Decision making is both a process to go through and a skill that can be honed. The skill of decision making takes time to learn. Decision making – the process – will be different for every decision, for every start-up, in every niche, and in every incubator.

The commonality for making decisions, however, should be data and perspective. Even when the data backs up a decision with utter conviction, step back and ask: Is this the right decision to make? Because even with the right data – you might be on the wrong path altogether.

Learn to use your perspective and your data together. Use data and you might know exactly how many people dropped off during your checkout process. Use perspective and you might find that the drop-off is because the Intercom button is blocking the “next” arrow. That’s a story for another time, though.

As always, Stay Curious,

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Why Entrepreneurs Shouldn't Just Look at Data