I’m sure you’ve heard it… “Opinions are like ___, everyone has one”.
And it’s so true. Especially when it comes to business.
Let’s just rattle off a few of the big, ongoing debates we see in our tiny circle of the business world:
- Raise money or Bootstrap (and even “mostly Bootstrap,” as I have)
- Build a personal brand, or put everything under the umbrella of the company
- Pay yourself as you go, or wait for the big exit
- SaaS or Productized Service
- Which marketing channel and strategy to take
- Hire someone, or bring in a consultant
- Pricing strategy: charge by usage, seats, features, etc.
- Chase the AI craze, or wait and see
As founders, we have to make all of these decisions almost every day, and it’s exhausting.
I talked about this on Rogue Startups (my podcast that’s been running for 8+ years as of the time of this writing) about making better decsions and dealing with uncertainty, and those are good reminders to me in reinforcing a framework for how I approach decision making on a daily basis.
But it’s not just making better decisions, it’s how I process input from valued team members, coaches/mentors, investors, and friends that makes such a big difference.
A Framework For Getting Input
As a solo founder, I make a lot of decisions every day. But rarely do I do so in complete isolation, without input from someone on the matter.
And that’s by design.
I like other people’s input in the decisions I’m making.
But I am always very clear to make sure I view someone else’s opinion, insight, and (always inherently…consciously or subconsciously) bias in their input in the proper context.
So if it’s the “Which marketing strategy should we focus on?” question and I’m getting advice from a fellow founder, I might think about:
- Have they had success in (or been burned by) this approach before?
- Have they actually done this, or just heard about it on Twitter?
- Does this align with their personal or business values in some way? Or is it directly conflicting with them too?
- Is there something about their past experience that should make me give more or less weight to this data point?
- How do their core values align with me and mine on this topic?
- How much do I trust them?
It’s not that I don’t listen, I always listen, and I mentally tally up someone’s input, but always with asterisks ***.
The asterisks are qualifiers.
And not just when someone disagrees with my initial stance. That’s easy to start to dismiss because you think they don’t know you, don’t have the context, or aren’t aligned with your overall vision.
It’s when someone agrees with the direction I want to go that I start to question things the most.
Are they just trying to be a people pleaser and boost my ego, or do they genuinely have the authority to reinforce this decision for me?
Making good decisions is a muscle.
We do it every day, and sometimes it gets fatigued. That’s when we seek (and rely on moreso) the opinions of others. But let’s be careful about the weight we put into input from others on our business. While they may not intend to, everyone’s opinion is biased in some way, and when we can put that bias into the right lense then a really clear, objective piece of data for our decision making comes along.