Business decisions are not always easy to make but there are some basic rules that can help in making informed decisions. The three most important elements of smart business decisions are fact-based planning, consistency, and flexibility.

Planning: Before you plan for the year ahead, get as much information about past performance indicators as you can. You need to decide how to optimally allocate resources. The scarcest resource is probably your own time. Prioritizing and delegating (or even outsourcing) can help you manage your time better. If you’re a working mother then allot an hour a day as buffer for unforeseen calls from your kids.

Once you’ve planned your own time, it’s now your responsibility to allocate your resources optimally. You need to have a formally written down budget for each of your areas of work, for example Human Resource, Marketing, Finance.  When allocating your budget you need to be realistic and ensure that your expectations of growth are in keeping with your marketing dollar. You can’t expect to drastically conquer market share if you don’t allocate enough money to Marketing. So your targets need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic and Time-Bound)

The most important aspect of your marketing strategy is optimum allocation of funds.  You need to ensure that your marketing plan is based on hard-core data rather than mere whim. For example, if you use call tracking then you know which marketing channel is generating you the most productive leads and you allocate money based on this knowledge.  A keyword level analysis tells you exactly which words to target to get you the most sales. With targeted marketing you are able to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI)

Consistency: As a small business owner your decisions are important indicators to your employees. For example, if you re-enforce customer satisfaction at all costs one day then you cannot come the next day and start promoting cost cutting. Your decisions have to be consistent and reflect your beliefs otherwise your team is confused and unable to give of their best.

Flexibility: One of the key benefits of being a small business owner, or entrepreneur, is that you can implement decisions quickly. You do not need to go through bureaucratic approvals before you actually put your ideas to practice.  For example, if a keyword analysis of your transcription report reveals that certain keywords are not working while others are, you can adjust your marketing pitch as soon as you find out.

Once you have made a decision based on all available data, please stick to it and have no regrets. You did the best that you could under the circumstances.  Do not keep dwelling on how things would have been if you had chosen an alternative course of action. Past is past so let it go and move on.

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