Decisions are a great resource. They cost nothing to produce, and can make all the difference in the world to your business. Are you making the right decisions? How do you know?
Clearing the Fog of Failure
One of the most overlooked means of success is the speed at which you can fail. Frequent, sustainable failure (planned mistakes called "tests") will give you knowledge of the business landscape with great speed. Just as military scouts are forever attempting to monitor and probe enemy territory, so should you be probing the market to remove the "fog of war" surrounding it.
Carl von Clausewitz was a Prussian military strategist. One of his chief theories was the "Fog of War". Simply put: the fog of war is a blanket of uncertainty that surrounds a conflict or battle because you cannot know all of the data about your enemy. You deal with bits and pieces, and assimilate those as best you can; however, the rest you must approximate. As the battle begins, troops move, and more territory comes under your control, the fog of war becomes less dense around certain areas of battle, which have been explored or monitored, and lifts completely when it has been conquered.
In business, we have many fogs to deal with: marketing fog, employee fog, sales fog, service fog, and customer fog to name a few. Each fog surrounds your goal. Each fog begins very dense. As you experiment with each, you learn more skills, become more productive, and gain insights into each of the problems, missions, and difficulties that stand between you and success.
Failing quickly in small sustainable tests can yield extraordinary amounts of information. The trick is to only allocate a minimum number of resources that could successfully accomplish a given task. For instance, a commander does not send just one soldier to do anything. He sends at least two, and in most cases he sends a small team. You must learn from this same commander. Underfunding a marketing test will assure failure.
Moreover the commander will not move entire battalions just to go see "what's over that hill?" That would be an extraordinary waste of resources when a small team could also suffice. Conversely, if the commander KNEW
what was over the hill, and he also KNEW
what forces would be required to take it, and he also KNEW
that taking the target would give him an advantage over the entire enemy, then he will deploy entire battalions and every man he has at his command in accordance with a strategic plan to take the target, and turn it into an asset.
Likewise, you must first test your market, identify your targets, and pick the top targets into whom you will invest the maximum amount of resources for an identified and quantifiable return.
Quick decisions and quick failures will help the commander determine what areas and locations are valuable and which are not. Then, quick decisions accompanied by a strategic plan will result in the acquisition of those targets, which will then become the commander's assets.
Your business should be no different. Use quick decisions and quick failures to identify niches in your market and to uncover their weak points, selling points, pain points, and the like. Then, when you have identified your targets, deploy resources strategically and without prejudice in an effort to acquire them as clients.
An Unlimited Resource
Decisions cost nothing to make, do not require any resources, and can be manufactured by anyone as fast as humanly possible. You have an unlimited supply of them, and you can throw out any decisions when ever you feel like it as a "bad decision" and replace it with a better one. Put simply, decisions are wonderful because they always produce some type of data with which you can grow your business and learn.
You might be thinking to yourself: "I have made some really bad and expensive decisions in my life... I am not sure I believe all this."
I would not dare contradict what you're thinking. I will, however, tell you that there is one key word in that phrase: expensive
. No decision should be expensive
until you have properly lifted the fog surrounding the decision. You don't bet the farm until you know it's a sure thing (or as close as you can get to a sure thing in your industry). All your decisions should be small, risky ones until you strike it rich with a winner.
For example, when I first began to market totalticketsystem.com, I had several pay-per-click advertisements on the various search engines. None of those campaigns spent more than $5.00 / day. NONE OF THEM. I tested well over 100 headlines, 37 pictures, and 15 different landing page scenarios before I found the winner. Once I found the winner, I put big bucks behind it, and BOOM! it sold out (as you can see here
). Slowly and methodically I lifted the fog that surrounded what my target audience (IT professionals like you) wanted from a ticket and billing system. Once I hit that vein of gold where I was communicating to other IT people about issues and features they really cared about, I put serious resources behind it.
If you're doing the math, I had to make 100+37+15 (152) decisions before I found the winner. 152 total decisions - 1 winner = 151 bad decisions. To put it bluntly, I made 151 bad decisions in 1 month! Then I sold out the entire system in 1 week!
How to Make Quick Decisions
In order to make quick decisions, you must have a set of criteria by which to measure your decisions. Our criteria and checklist is listed below. Feel free to use and adopt any part of it to your own means:
Does the decision fit into our overall strategy?
Will the decision yield good information with which we can move forward?
Am I willing to take a total loss on this decision if it doesn't work?
Am I willing to back this decision with the minimum necessary resources for this to have a good chance of success?
Have I documented how this decision came to being, and how it will be executed so I can reproduce success and avoid future failures?
Does this decision force me outside of my comfort zone?
If you have all seven of these tools in place, you will be able to make quick, accurate decisiosn that produce copious amounts of information in real time. Your company will be able to "bob and weave" in the market until you have found a tight niche and profitable mechanical means and tactical execution that boosts your bottom line.
If you have any questions on how this may apply in your business, leave a comment below, or friend me on Facebook
, and send me a message.
This artile is a reprint of Why Quick Decisions and Quick Failure are Beneficial to your Business
from TotalTicketSystem.com. Used with permission.