Francesca Federico, cofounder and principal of Twelve Points
Courtesy of Twelve Points
By Francesca Federico
December 18, 2015

The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?” is written by Francesca Federico, cofounder and principal of Twelve Points.

Coming from an Italian immigrant family of entrepreneurs, I learned how to trust my gut at a young age. I remember cutting the lawn with my grandfather as a child—I probably wasn’t older than 7—and whenever I asked him any questions about my technique, the machine, or when the bag was full, he said, “You’ll feel it. It takes practice.”

Those six words have gotten me through a lot in my life. I started my practice at Morgan Stanley by cold calling. All of the scripts and jargon in the world can’t prepare you for that type of work. Every person who answered the phone was different, so there was no right thing to say. My best calls were when I just said what I felt in my gut.

Your gut is your “inner compass,” and once you learn to just listen and follow it, amazing things happen.

I started my company in 2014, but was so nervous to leave the big corporate lifestyle. Crazy thoughts were going through my head: What if I fail? What if I go broke? What if my clients don’t come with me? But something deep down told me that it would all work out. Was it easy? No. But here I am a year and a half later, and my business has tripled.

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You learn a lot about yourself when you start your own company, the biggest being that you are the decision maker now, and you need to make decisions rationally, but also quickly. Your instincts play a huge role in how you run your company, hire people, and make decisions.

Not every decision you make is going to be right, but what counts is the feeling about your decision. Knowing when to use your intuition and when to make a decision based on facts takes practice. What I do think is helpful is to associate feelings with your decisions. Sometimes you feel bad about what you had to do, but you know it was the right thing deep down. Your intuition is a very powerful tool, and the more you listen to it and use it, the more comfortable you’ll become with yourself. It breeds confidence and a sense of control.

If someone asked me what the hardest part about being an entrepreneur is, I would say making decisions and knowing when I am right or when I am wrong. Each day in our businesses, we are forced to make decisions on market conditions, prices, costs, and accepting or declining business deals. Ultimately, the best decisions come from your gut, and the only way you can know you’re sure is by trusting your intuition.

Francesca Federico is cofounder and principal of Twelve Points. Francesca is an ERISA Fiduciary and specializes in working with corporate executives and managing the process around their company’s retirement plan. She also enjoys working with women executives and women in transition.

Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question: When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?

This is How Long it Should Take to Make a Decision by Tim Flannery, a venture partner at Pilot Mountain Ventures.

Why You Shouldn’t Think Twice About Firing an Employee by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

This is How the Most Successful Leaders Make Tough Decisions by Simon Berg, CEO of Ceros.

The Best Way to Make Fast Decisions by Vijay Ramani, cofounder and CEO of Totspot.

What Every Leader Can Learn From Alfred P. Sloan About Tough Decisions by Frank Fabela, Vistage CEO peer advisory board chair.

Proof Data Can’t Always Help You Make Decisions by Morgan Hermand-Waiche, founder and CEO of Adore Me.

Doing This Will Help You Make Tough Decisions by Suneera Madhani, founder and CEO of Fattmerchant.

Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Trust Your Gut by Gesche Haas, founder of Dreamers//Doers.

Here’s What You Should Do When You Have to Make a Tough Decision by Alexander Goldstein, founder and CEO of Eligo Energy.

Never Make a Big Decision Without Doing This First by Feris Rifai, cofounder and CEO of Bay Dynamics.

Here’s How Questioning Decisions Can Ruin a Business by Pat Peterson, founder and CEO of Agari.

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