Three people sit in a group and talk. The person sitting on the right is a smiling man with a shaved head and a thick beard; he is holding a red pen in one hand. The person sitting in the middle is a man with dark hair and stubble; he is speaking and gesturing at the person across from him with one hand. The person across from him, seated on the left side of photo, is facing away from the viewer and emphasizing their point by pointing in the air with one finger. This person has short dark hair and is wearing a striped sweater and gold hoop earrings.
Bringing your colleagues into the decision-making process can help you consider alternate viewpoints and avoid decision fatigue. — Getty Images/10'000 Hours

Researchers estimate that around 20% of the population struggles with indecision. Indecision can be draining at best and paralyzing at worst, and as a small business owner, there’s often no time to be indecisive. If you are interested in improving your decision-making skills, consider trying these techniques.

Think of decision making as a process

First, take steps to relieve some of the pressure of the act of making a decision.

“The majority of people think about making decisions as an event,” said Harvard Business School Professor Len Schlesinger. “It’s very rare to find a single point in time where a ‘decision of significance’ is made and things go forward from there. What we’re really talking about is a process. The role of the manager in overseeing that process is straightforward, yet, at the same time, extraordinarily complex.”

Reframe your decision as a process rather than a moment of time. This mindset can then help you map out the steps you will take, the information you need, and some people who can help you in reaching a final outcome.

Gather the information you need

Decisions shouldn’t be made in a vacuum. Make sure you have the most accurate picture possible by doing research and gathering as much information as possible. There are tools you can use to help start brainstorming from the data you have, such as:

  • A SWOT analysis: To show you where your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats lie.
  • The Vroom-Yetton Jago decision-making model: A tool that can help you figure out the most appropriate management style for various situations.
  • A Fishbone diagram: A cause-and-effect diagram that can help you isolate the root cause of a problem.
  • The 5 Whys Analysis: Mimic a toddler and ask “why” five times to narrow down the information you have and find the last few causes of your problem.

These tools and others can help you gain clarity on your decision and figure out what next steps to take.

[Read more: 5 Processes to Help You Tackle Tough Business Decisions]

Whenever you make a decision, ask yourself: If I make the wrong decision, how will I know it?

Business Development Bank of Canada

Involve others

If you’re struggling, consider bringing in other perspectives to help. Ask members of your team to weigh in — which can both help you get more information and help your employees feel more engaged with their work.

“Research in the journal Royal Society Open Science shows team decision-making is highly effective because it pools individuals’ collective knowledge and experience, leading to more innovative solutions and helping to surface and overcome hidden biases among groups,” reported Harvard Business School.

Involving others won’t just help your decision making; it could also boost your company culture.

Evaluate the level of risk

Acknowledging the risks involved in your decision has a twofold benefit. First, it can help alleviate some stress. Not all decisions will carry the same weight, and it's important to be realistic about the risks involved.

A decision about where to order lunch is a low-risk decision, and can be easily delegated. A decision about where to host your fundraising event, however, does carry a bit more importance — meaning you should pay more attention.

Along with assessing the importance of your decision, identifying potential risks can also help you understand whether you made the right decision later on. “Whenever you make a decision, ask yourself: If I make the wrong decision, how will I know it?” wrote the Business Development Bank of Canada. “This type of exercise can help you see the potential pitfalls of a decision and take steps to avoid them.”

For instance, the pitfalls of choosing the wrong event venue could mean fewer attendees, since people won’t be able to access the location. This could have implications for your fundraising for the year. With this information, you can take steps to get more information about where your attendees will be traveling from and find an accessible venue.

Delegate where possible

Decision fatigue is real. Making too many decisions yourself can impair your ability to make good decisions when they matter.

Delegate everyday work decisions to those around you—and empower them with training and support. “In our experience, ensuring that responsibility for delegated decisions is firmly in the hands of those closest to the work typically delivers faster, better, and more efficiently executed outcomes, while also enhancing engagement and accountability,” wrote McKinsey.

[Read more: 5 Habits That Will Make Entrepreneurs More Creative and Innovative]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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