The Decisions That Make You Money, Part 1

Decisions, part 1Some decisions are easy to make. I’d love to say that the easy ones are in the majority, but we both know they’re not. (If decision making was simple and easy, we wouldn’t have any clients.)

This is especially true when it comes to the decisions that make you money. Those tend to be the ones where the stakes feel particularly high, especially when you need your ittybiz to not be so itty in a hurry. There’s only so much of you to go around, so what do you work on next?

How do you know if you’ve made the right decision?

How do you know if you’re on track to make more money or grow your business?

How do you know if you’re going to regret your choices or not?

That’s what we’re going to talk about over the next few posts in this series. At the end of it, you’ll be a lot better equipped to make decisions quickly and confidently.

Let’s begin.

First of all, let’s put the idea of a “right” decision aside for a moment.

Looking for the “right” decision is an all but guaranteed path to staying stuck for a long, long time. The “right” decision is a bit of a myth, partially because it’s a pleasant thing to believe in and partially because of confirmation bias.

If you do something and it turns out well, you look back and say “I made the right choice there.” That’s confirmation bias. If it turns out rotten, you tend to say “I should have chosen a different option.” But that kind of thinking is based on how things turn out at the end, which has little to do with your decision.

A quick example: You’re choosing between two houses in two different neighborhoods. They both have their pros and cons, and there’s no clear-cut winner. So you choose Neighborhood A.

If, a few years later, your property value goes way up because someone decided to build a school nearby, that had nothing to do with your initial decision. But you still feel like you made a great decision, even though what you really had was a lucky break.

If you chose Neighborhood B instead, and your property value stays the same, you may find yourself looking back and saying “I should have bought the other house. I made the wrong decision.”

But did you make the wrong decision?

Or are you just not happy with the result?

Right Decisions Versus Reasonable Decisions

When two (or more) options seem to have a relatively balanced set of pros and cons, or there are enough unknowns that you don’t see a clear-cut choice, you are officially out of Right Decision Territory.

One decision doesn’t beat another. They all have potential upsides. So, when it comes down to it, you’re really facing making a reasonable choice. When all things are relatively equal, you don’t really have a metric to help you choose one thing over another. All choices are reasonable.

If you’re looking to make more money, you have a lot of reasonable ways to spend your time doing things like:

  • Building your list so you will have more people to sell to
  • Improving your sales pages so more people will convert to customers
  • Growing your social media presence so more people know who you
  • Adding more products or services so there are more things for people to buy
  • Launching something in a big way
  • Making quiet changes to your website to increase click-through and conversion
  • Increasing the amount of content you create
  • Revamping your website so you look more professional

All of those things are reasonable. All of these things may feel like things you HAVE to do.

And all things being equal, it can feel impossible to make a decision.

So how do you decide?

You make them less equal.

The trick to deciding is to start asking specific, answerable questions that make one decision more reasonable than the others.

When you buy a car, you don’t just walk onto a car lot and say “These three cars look good. How do I decide?” You look at each car and ask yourself which details are more important to you, what trade-offs you’re willing to accept, and then you decide.

Maybe you decide that you’re willing to pay a little more for one car because it has better gas milage. Maybe you decide that you’ll take the car with fewer features because it has fewer miles on the engine. But you chew on the details, and you think about what you’re willing to trade off on to get this other thing that you want.

You don’t think “But I need the car that has the best gas mileage, AND the fewest miles on the engine AND the most features!” You know you’re going to have to compromise on one thing to get the other thing that you want more.

When it comes to bigger decisions in life or business, for whatever reason people stop asking those questions.

They say “But I need to get more products up AND get my list growing AND get more Facebook traction AND get my sales pages redone AND …”

… and then they’re stuck, because all of those things feel IMPORTANT and NECESSARY. Equally so.

… and they stay stuck because each of those things has an attractive payoff. Equally attractive. (Well, at least on the surface.)

The way to get unstuck is to start looking at a number of different details that help you figure out what kind of payoffs and trade-offs go along with each option, the same way you’d compare the features of the car.

Over the next few posts, I’ll take you through those details so you know how to compare one option to another. And that’s what helps you see one decision as not so equal anymore.

In the meantime, here’s your homework.

Take a few minutes and write down some of the decisions you’re struggling with in your business – the things that fall into the “I have too many things I think I SHOULD be doing and I can’t pick which one” category.

You can start with five of them, just to get the ball rolling.

Then read part two of this series.

Start with five things – write them down right now. We’ll take it from there.

All my best,
Dave

About the author: Dave Navarro joined IttyBiz in 2011, and is in charge of doing the stuff nobody else knows how to do. Learn more about him here.