This Is What Happens When You Don’t Have a Business Plan

January 27, 2016, 12:30 AM UTC
Shadan Deleveaux, director of sales multicultural beauty division at L’Oréal USA

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you make tough business decisions? is by Shadan Deleveaux, co-founder of Technology For Families in Need.

In business, there are times when we are confronted with ambiguous challenges, amorphous problems, and nebulous goals. For a successful business person, the lack of certainty in any given situation cannot be a hindrance to progress and forward momentum. Perpetual advancement is essential to the well being of any business in today’s competitive marketplace. As professional decision makers, we are tasked with coming to the best possible solution for any given scenario. Often the dilemmas presented aren’t simple, neat, or easy to solve. While there may not be any simple solutions, these are a few practical steps to assist you in making the best possible decision:

Have a plan
When presented with a difficult business challenge your primary task is to define it. Before forging ahead and attempting to solve the problem, you must first understand a few key questions: Who are the key stakeholders in the situation? Who are the relevant influencers? What resources are necessary to tackle this challenge? But perhaps the most important question is: What does a successful resolution look like? Too often people dive into complicated situations without understanding exactly what their desired outcome is. If you are trying to be efficient and effective, spend the necessary time upfront framing your challenge. Doing the alternative is analogous to trying to build a car without ever having seen one. Yes, it is possible, but it’s infinitely more difficult.

See also: Always Do This When Making a Tough Decision

Seek advice
A wise business leader recognizes that she does not possess the totality of information within herself. She recognizes that there are a multitude of resources at her fingertips to assist in the decision making process. She seeks advice from experts, peers, or advisors. She researches business cases and studies examples from other companies. She absorbs their findings, takes into account their results and then adjusts their strategies to fit the reality and constraints of her own business environment. She recognizes that the amount of time spent seeking the experiences and input of others should be directly proportional to how critical the business decision is. The more complex the decision, the more time she will spend looking at the experiences of others and her own data before drawing an evidenced based conclusion to solve her immediate challenge.

Be confident
Once a problem has been properly framed, dissected, analyzed and a solution proposed, a successful business leader will pursue the solution with confidence. Self-confidence is important for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that your belief in your abilities can positively (or negatively) affect your results. Studies have shown that you are more likely to succeed, when you believe that you will succeed. Secondly, adopting a confident attitude will help you to be more decisive, and will make it much more likely that you will be able to rally the colleagues and resources necessary to achieve your business goals.

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