Decision-making at a startup may look like an easy thing: you know your friends (now your co-founders) well, you don’t need to schedule meetings, you don’t have any organizational hierarchy, not in the beginning at least. But, every decision needs to be made while keeping in mind that you are building a Bn$ enterprise. So assume you are sitting in that board room and every decision has a couple of Mn$ impacts.
Here are 10 tips that will help you make better decisions at your startup:
1. Quick doesn’t mean “not enough” discussion — while startups are supposed to be agile, never compromise on a quality discussion.
2. Avoid saying “yes” when you’re not convinced. Ask for more time, dig deep, study more, ask around but don’t say “yes” for the heck of it. But at the same time, make an action plan to keep moving.
3. Stay foolish — Sorry, I just couldn’t help quoting Jobs. Even though you know everything about the topic, stay foolish. Don’t get carried away by your own thoughts.
4. Trust your co-founder(s). Once the responsibility areas are defined, you have to trust your co-founder(s) to make the best decisions in that area. Always remember you have chosen him/her to be your co-founder ’cause he/she knows what you don’t.
5. Keep a day in a month to have a formal review with your mentors. It helps to validate your decisions and also helps to keep a timeline check on the progress you are making.
6. Sometimes discussing your decision with people outside your start-up, especially your family (mom, wife, dad) helps. They might not have context, they might not understand the details, but they can give you a new dimension to think about, a whole new angle you might not have considered before.
7. While funds will always be short at your start-up, don’t make decisions always on financial merit. Save money, but always think a year or two ahead before making decisions based on money.
8. Since childhood, we are taught to learn from others’ experiences and their mistakes: That’s solid advice for any startup founder. You can’t afford to make each and every mistake. Learn from others.
9. Believe in your intuition. If you are not able to get anywhere, believe in your intuition and take responsibility.
10. And finally, just like spouses, if you and your co-founder are not able to have a consensus over something, then sleep over it. The next day will bring fresh thoughts and a new perspective.
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