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Decisions are a daily concern in operating a small business. Decision making becomes second nature. Most are small, but some are big.
One good way to tackle the big decisions is to use the if/then model. If this happens, then what do I do? If this doesn't work, then what is my second alternative?
If the economy goes south, then I'll concentrate on this group of products/services and let the rest slide. If this type of advertising does not work, then I'll shift to social media alternatives. If a big box store comes to town, then I'll begin offering things they don't carry.
Example: Artists can have a difficult time connecting with the buying public. Juan loved to draw. Growing up, he honed his skills, including painting in oils. He attracted interest, but he noticed that people at shows and festivals bought pen and ink drawings of homes, buildings, bridges and the like. He thought about it, and he decided to concentrate on building a following with people interested in pen and ink. Doing these are easy and quick for Juan, and the word spread quickly. People now call him to come and do a drawing of their home, barn, and other local structures. This is now supporting Juan, and he uses his spare time to produce more oil paintings. His reputation is slowly spreading as an up and coming oil artist to watch--and buy.
Sometimes an interim path can be the main road to the goal you want to eventually reach. Don't disparage baby steps to get you there. Put the if/then decisions to work in building your business.
Example: Joel had time to plan ahead. WalMart announced some 18 months ahead of time that the company would be opening one of their big stores nearby. Joel feared for the future of his small hardware store, and he soon arrived at a "planning ahead" decision. If WalMart came to town, people would be buying everyday hardware items from them, not Joel's hardware store. So, he decided to move from his cramped, in-town store to a sprawling suburban lot on a main road. Simultaneously, he would change the direction of his business. Contractors and homeowners already came to Joel's place to rent the power tools and equipment they needed for a day or two. In his sprawling new location, Joel would have more room and could add more rentals. Today, Joel is in his new place, offering more and more rentals--including trucks and trailers. He has been able to add a repairman to keep the equipment shipshape. He still offers high quality hardware items and power tools for sale--concentrating on items not carried by WalMart.
Sometimes, owners of small businesses get comfortable with the business running itself. But the marketplace is always changing. It can take an outside force to kick start big decisions.
You can never know what the future will bring. But you can get ready for some possible changes in direction using the if/then decision making tool.