Are You Running Your Business On Gut Instincts?

By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
Photo by Brittany Beach

A Fortune Knowledge Group study reported that “62 percent of executives feel it is often necessary to rely on gut feelings and soft factors when making big decisions on partnerships and proposals.” Yet economic history and research shows that solid business data and experience should play heavily into those decisions.

I’m not sure how many of you have read the book “Think and Grow Rich” written by Napoleon Hill after Andrew Carnegie encouraged him to share the “magic formula” that had made him so successful. In addition to Carnegie, Hill studied over 500 self-made millionaires over a period of 20 years.

Hill’s 13 steps were reviewed in an article written by Kathleen Elkins in Business Insider. My focus is not to go into all 13 traits, but to highlight 5 traits that I think relate to the question posed in the title of this article.

First of all, Hill found that these successful entrepreneurs had both a deep desire and strong faith that they would achieve their goals. A third characteristic was that they had specialized knowledge – that they gained experiences and continued learning. As Hill stated, you are never done learning. They also had the imagination to create and visualize their success. And they then took this imagination and specialized knowledge and took action.

How do you make those key decisions? If you are a “starter” you may live for the creative beginnings of projects over the detailed follow up and follow through. You may tend to go with your gut instinct more often than a “finisher” who will probably be more likely to take the time to look at the facts and figures before moving forward with a conclusion. Which is a better approach? Actually, when “starters” and “finishers” work together, it’s a win for everyone!

So what if your firm combines the two? An ideal team includes a starter and a finisher which you can use to your advantage. Do your homework by analyzing and assessing the options after which you will be able to more effectively trust your judgment and follow your instincts. Remind yourself of the well-known quote by Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power.” Gut instincts should be combined with the knowledge that comes from reviewing and evaluating your firm’s strengths and weaknesses as well as being aware of the opportunities and threats. In addition, encourage your team to continue to add to their education. Take advantage of and invest in the opportunities presented to expand your knowledge base by attending educational sessions. Join a mastermind group. You’ll come away with new ideas but also be able to network with other designers and build new relationships.

Gut instinct alone only carries you so far, but combine that gut instinct with your vision and knowledge, and you should then be more prepared to take action and have the persistence to see that vision through to completion – a successful combination of both a strong “starter” and “finisher”!

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