Is it wrong for entrepreneurs to go with their gut?

A survey suggests the nation's entrepreneurs often rely on gut instinct to make decisions. Better than coin-tosses and psychics, we suppose...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 04 Jul 2011
If you agonise for hours over risk assessments and make lengthy lists of pros and cons before deciding on a new brand of printer paper, it’s probably best to look away now. For a new survey has suggested that 55% of entrepreneurs are surprisingly relaxed when it comes to decision-making, saying they’re happy to use their gut instinct when it comes to big changes to their businesses. Who knew the nation’s wealth-creators were so easy-going?

According to T-Mobile’s survey of over 2,000 small business owners, 81% say they’re ‘optimistic by nature’, while 56% say that there’s nothing to stop them making changes to their businesses. For more than a third, it’s easier to initiate change in their business than it is in their personal life (although the survey neglects to mention just how drastic those changes are – presumably changing your brand of washing powder is simplicity itself compared with making a new hire…).

For some, though, change is a little more challenging: almost a quarter said they’re ‘too busy’ to make any changes to their business, while one in five says the idea of change makes them worry. Just under 10% say they don’t make changes at all - not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t think they’d be welcomed by other people in the company. Although some might argue that if they want to succeed as entrepreneurs, they need to stop letting their employees dictate their strategy…

Going back to that gut instinct point, though – is it the right way to make decisions? Cautious types might point out that without careful consideration and research, you could end up risking your business – but there’s an argument (as mooted by curly-haired thinker Malcolm Gladwell) that decisions made on the spur of the moment are nothing more than your subconscious collating all the information you already have, thus helping you make the best decision. And, as Forum of Private business spokesperson Phil McCabe added, in the current climate it’s important for small business owners to be able to make snap decisions. ‘There’s no room for complacency or fear of the new,’ he said.

Either way, at least it’s more reliable than other methods of decision-making admitted to by business owners. Apparently, 6% said they’ve used psychics, horoscopes or fortune tellers to come to a conclusion, while 17% of entrepreneurs under 30 said they’d consider tossing a coin. Nice to know the future of our economy is in good hands…

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