Making decisions is the key skill that running a business comes down to. Every day will begin with either new decisions to make; new challenges for your business to rise to or reviewing the consequences of decisions you’ve taken before – which may in turn, lead to more challenges and more decisions.
One of the most important things you can do is make your decision-making process iterative: let each decision be informed by the previous ones, as data from the past allows you to shape your future. This should allow you to tend progressively more towards good decisions, as you learn both from your mistakes and your triumphs.
You need to begin with data. Working with specialists so you have access to comprehensive market research intelligence is a necessity to help you make informed choices and see how those choices succeed or fail in both absolute and relative terms. You can gather data about your own company: the skills and capacity you have available to complete work, so you know exactly what you can accomplish at any one time. You need specialist market researchers to gather and interpret the data about your customers, about consumers who haven’t become your customers yet, about the trends governing their decisions and about your closest competitors.
It’s important that this data gathering is a constant, ongoing effort – you want to track how the market responds to your actions so you can begin to chose actions you can predict the market will respond favourably to. Running ongoing Brand Tracker surveys, for example, will show you how customers respond to advertising campaigns and branding over time, allowing you to see whether you’ve made good choices, and built customers awareness and trust in your brand, or undermined your reputation.
Once you’ve set up your data streams, it’s important to ensure that you have constant review and feedback processes set up to see how your decisions are reflected in the data. If you’re launching a new product, it’s going to have all sorts of impacts on your market, and combining the information you have direct access to (broadly, sales) and the data coming in from your market research specialists (whether more people intend to shop with you now or less, if your brand is more widely recognised) to get a true indication of the success of your project that you can apply to the future.