Decision Making and Small Business: Who Should Decide?

Posted by Matt Reilly on Feb 1, 2018 5:08:57 PM

Small business owners are frequently beyond dedicated to their businesses. Their enterprise can’t survive if they aren’t giving 110% all the time. And while it may not be healthy to spend so much energy on something and forgo much needed rest, in the earliest days of the business there is simply too much to get done. The business owners that do it all are the ones who succeed.

But once you’ve made it in the small business world, you’ve got your company up and running and have hired a few employees, you’ll need to start delegating. Otherwise, your business will never be able to grow beyond what you, alone, are capable of.

Delegating is no easy task! It’s easy to tell someone what to do, but letting someone else make decisions about your business and your customers is scary, and can feel like letting go of control. Really, letting someone else in the business make a decision is letting go of control, at least for that moment.

It’s obvious what could go wrong if you delegate some decisions to your employees. They might misrepresent the business, they might do something that doesn’t align with your company strategy, and so on. When you are in control of a decision, you never have to worry about those things happening.

The question that small business owners need to ask themselves is: What does the company lose by depending on me all the time?

The answer is: speed and efficiency. Whenever you need to be bring yourself into a decision, the whole process slows down. A longer decision process can mean customers wait longer for a resolution to their request, which forces employees to delay and apologize instead of fixing the problem. This is perhaps the worst sin businesses regularly commit in the face of their customers: making excuses to patrons because the employees on hand are not allowed to fix problems quickly and at their own discretion. This kind of situation happens all over the business spectrum, from small restaurants to huge telecommunications companies.

What small business owners should figure out ahead of time is what sort of decisions need quick and efficient execution, and what decisions need consistent and strategic execution.

It’s often the case that customer service decisions are better made by the employee closest to the situation, so that the customer can be made happy as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, marketing promotions are something that need to fit into the context of a long term strategy and consistent business image, and therefore should include a lot of top-down decision making.

Think about the kinds of decisions that need to be made during your small business’s operations. Which ones are best made by the employee closest to them, and which ones need some centralized management?


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