The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the editors or publishers of Rolling Stone.
Business is full of difficult decisions. Over the course of a day, an entrepreneur may find themselves making anywhere from one to hundreds of difficult decisions, big or small. While experience and time help make the decision-making process easier for many business owners, they can still often benefit from asking themselves a few clarifying questions.
Below, a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council members each share a question an entrepreneur can ask themselves before making a tough decision to make sure they’re on the right track.
Is this decision rational or emotional?
After many years of operating from my ego early in my career, I learned the error of my ways and now do everything in my power to keep my ego out of decision making. It’s not always perfect, but this question helps me see the forest for the trees and check that I’m not being irrational or reacting out of pride or ego. – Harrison Wise, Wise Collective Inc.
Does this decision support our mission?
When all aspects of a decision are considered and it is still a difficult choice, I ask myself if it supports our mission statement. Every business should have a mission statement that speaks to the main focus of the business. Decisions made should keep your business fulfilling its mission, not pull it in another direction. – Sheila Dedenbach, Heavenly Sweet
Do I have team buy-in?
One question I would ask myself when making a tough decision is, “Is my team behind it?” It’s okay to make a decision, but unless you have follow-through from your team, your decision will have a hard time making a real impact . – Robbie Murch, BUMP
Who does this help?
When I owned my own business, I sometimes received advice that directly contradicted what I believed in and wanted to do with my own company. Entrepreneurs are idealistic people; we go into our own business because we want something to fundamentally change. Allowing crucial decisions to be guided by those who do not share your beliefs undermines the whole point, sometimes absurdly. – Kate Rubenstein
Does this decision align with my business strategy?
From experience with clients and myself, I’ve seen that most difficult decisions are coupled with many possible “solutions” that can take you to intersections unrelated to what you’re doing. Your business strategy should guide your decisions if done right. Of course, if your business strategy isn’t working, fix it first. – Rene Nunez, Sensum
Will I continue to be compliant?
My firm primarily represents cannabis and psychedelic clients for whom the primary underlying question for all decisions is “Will I remain compliant?” Regardless of your industry, identifying potential regulatory risks is fundamental. Soon you won’t have any decisions to make at all if your business falls into line. Then you risk losing influence and even having your licenses revoked. – Evan Nison, NisonCo
How big is the loss?
This question clarifies what is at stake if this solution fails. By asking how big the loss is, you’re also mentally preparing yourself for everything you’ve listed to go to zero. If the loss is not too big, I would say take the risk and then evaluate over a period of time. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
Will this set me up for long-term success?
When making a difficult business decision, it’s important to determine which choice will create the most long-term success. Making decisions that focus on setting your company up for scale will allow you to encounter fewer problems down the road. – King Holder, PROCUSSION
Does this decision make the world a better place?
Will it make the world a better place? “It is both so simple and infinitely complex.” All my business decisions are made not only with the hope of making a profit, but also with the hope of improving the lives of others as much as possible. No decision is made in a vacuum, so I believe that stepping back and talking to the people who will be most directly affected is an excellent place to start evaluating such issues. – Jeffrey M. Zucker, Green Lion Partners
What effect does this have on my team?
I wonder what positive or negative effect my decision might have on the team. Asking myself questions before making tough decisions guides me to the best decision I can make with the information I have. – Adam Rumanek, Aux Mode Inc.