What I learned about decision-making as a consultancy business owner


Consultancy is one type of expertise business besides financial advisors, personal stylists, a wedding planner, brand photographer, videographers, etc. As expertise business owners, we face different types of decision-making day in, day out. Let’s have a closer look at the types of decisions I have come across as a consultant, helping business owners, as well as choices I had to make as a small business owner.  

Decisions, decisions…

Decisions govern the flow of our life. We make decisions at every step of the way of our waking moments, from the moment we open our eyes till we fall asleep at night. Our decisions reveal our values, beliefs, and experiences. Moreover, some choices happen at and create new junctures in life. Although, not even good decisions can guarantee optimum outcomes or even an improvement in our lives. The way how we make choices influence these decisions, and therefore the results as well.   

The process of decision-making  

Decision-making is a process that considers the decision-maker and the environment in which the choice is made. The process of decision-making consists of a series of steps an individual follows when making a choice: collecting information, evaluating alternatives, and making a choice based on a set of criteria; finally, you act. During decision-making, various things are linked to you, which affect how you make your choices. These variables could be your fears, your deepest desires, circumstances, lifestyle, your beliefs to the overall outcome, and so on.   

In our Five Strategies to Make Better Decisions Faster Guidebook, we help you formulate your secret recipe to get closer to what you desire by giving you food for thought and exercises. It guides you through the steps of a transformational process that leads to a new you. Get in touch if you would like to acquire this guidebook.  

Now, let’s get back to our topic today. When you own or run a business, no matter the size, you are required and trusted to make the best decisions for your team. Business owners and managers must understand the impact and importance of each decision they make. The results of the wrong or right choices can affect the entire business. Business owners must continue to improve and update their decision-making skill set. Most of the time, the basics of decision making are the same. However, new techniques are evolving every day, impacting making significant decisions for your company.   

Collaborative technique of decision-making  

Also known as group decision making, collaborative decision making is a decision-making technique that works precisely the way it sounds. A group of people discusses and weighs up decisions. Most often, these people are chosen either at random or are compiled based on their experiences and knowledge in the company. This decision-making method is one of the most impactful ways to decide, but it is also the most time-consuming.   

For example, a company would like to make an investment, and you are part of the team that is preparing the analysis connected to this potential deal. When you work as part of a team, you need to approve a presentation supporting a decision-making process. The analysis is wide-ranging, considering the effect of the investment on the legal, economic, brand-related aspects of the business. This is a typical example of collaborative decision-making. Alternatively, when a firm decides that they would like to make an acquisition or a merger is also a good example of collaborative decision-making. Technology businesses, especially app development, require lots of decisions made in collaboration between team members and partners.  

An even more direct example of this technique is the following. In the pharma industry, there is fierce competition between companies in significantly shortening the molecules’ testing and approval time. In this process, many groups work together. The sales and marketing, product development, and regulatory teams work together on the decision of reducing the testing and approval time.  

Reaching a consensus  

When something is decided through the collaborative technique, it can happen through reaching a consensus or a non-collaborative decision. Decision-makers reach a consensus when all of the parties making the choice come to a common agreement. The above examples have a good outcome if they are reached through unison amongst the parties. The advantage of such decision-making is that it’s a win-win for all involved. It’s not about having a win here and be on the losing side elsewhere. The decision has the agreement of all parties because they accept the group’s choice due to it bringing them the value that is in line with their interest.  Nevertheless, not all collaborative decisions will be consensus-based. Some may be ‘dictated’ from upper management levels, and they need to agree, rather than want to agree with the decision fully.  

Sir, yes, sir! – The command technique  

The command technique is very rare nowadays. You may come across it in the army, or not even there. This decision-making technique is connected to the autocratic leadership style. Through the command technique, leaders make decisions without talking with higher managers or their teams when deciding. This style is standard and often speeds up the decision-making process. Often, this technique works best when you must make a quick, time-sensitive decision.   

This type of decision-making is used, for example, at the time of a merger or acquisition decision when leaders of an organization may not consult with you when making their choice. If the firm’s strategy and growth dictate to make an acquisition, they may not discuss with all managers that they are taking this step. In this case, the board of directors comes together, and they may make a collaborative decision. Still, that may not involve other managers in making this choice. Therefore, the decision will be collaboratively made for the board of directors, but it will be more of a command for the rest of the organization. So, the same decision from different angles may appear in a different light.   

Convenience technique  

Some decisions are made out of convenience. The decision-maker may choose to go with the flow or pick the option with less resistance, even opting for the alternative with the least pain. This technique comes in handy too, when the decision-maker wants to gloss over something they consider a weakness.   

The convenience technique is a ‘hands-off’ approach to decision making. This technique can be one of the toughest for business owners and managers. Delegating and trusting another person to make the best decision for your company may be daunting and stressful. However, this decision-making technique also opens up perspectives you had not looked at before. Handing over a decision to someone else on operational matters can empower your team while clearing up time on your schedule. The convenience technique is one of the most difficult methods, yet it is an impactful and rewarding way to make a decision. It has downsides, too, unfortunately. Placing decisions in an employee’s hands may leave you open to not knowing what is happening in your business. This notion could leave you facing trouble when they step out of the company.  

A stitch in time saves nine…  

As an example, for making a convenient decision, here is a situation that I’ve found myself in. I consider it as my life lesson. In my business’s technology department, I left many decisions to the person responsible for the IT side of my company. This was a decision I made out of convenience, as I did not want to spend time or energy with the technological details. Soon I had to realize that I got distanced far from the applied technological solutions. When this person left my company, it left me feeling uneasy that I didn’t know these things. I then had to learn everything connected to the technological solutions to be able to work my way through it all. I am a small business owner, and I must admit that I cannot be a jack-of-all-trades. Simultaneously, I have to possess enough knowledge to pull through and resolve occurring issues after someone leaves the business. My convenience decision stemmed from wanting to focus on product development, sales, and so on and therefore wanted the technological stuff to get resolved ‘on their own’. Well, lessons learned, I won’t do this in a hurry any time soon!

Honestly about what it’s really like to start and run a business

Ariana Mara

Honestly about what it’s really like to start and run a business

In this podcast, Ariana talks through her real-life experience of how to start and run a business. She shares the milestones she hit on the journey of bringing her third company, unleashr, to life. You’ll get a sneak peek into the basic idea behind establishing unleashr, through taking the business online to how she and her team are building a new and different brand. Come and have a listen, it might just inspire you!

Podcast transcript

Hello Everyone,

It’s been a while, I know. We have been busy with preparing for product launches and putting an entirely new brand on the road. I am so excited!

Still very much to do, but sometimes we all need to take a step back and reflect on what is happening around us.  

So much has changed. When we started the Honestly series, we were free to move around. Understandably, now, we act with more caution because of the pandemic.

Also, I have to say that I am amazed by all healthcare staff’s efforts around the world. Not sure if there is a word that expresses the gratitude I am feeling for their work, even though I have been fortunate so far.

Some things haven’t really changed, though. For one, that is our passion for working for our clients’ success. We didn’t stop innovating and improving our business, which, I believe, is what all business owners do because this is how businesses move forward and create value. Which, I would say, is the essence and mission of a business.

Lately, I have been receiving a specific question, actually two, again and again, so there you go.

What is it really like to start and run a business?

Well, for me, it has been exciting, liberating, mind-blowing, inspiring, and a lot of hard work. So, if you are about to start and run a business and hear all the success stories promising you to get recognized and rich overnight… Well, my advice is to take these with a pinch of salt.

The girl needs to seriously get her ‘shit’/talent together to start a business that is born to succeed. Because, obviously, we all go for success. Statistics show though that only 10% of businesses are running after a few years.

I am not telling you this to ruin your dream or motivation about starting and running a business. Without dreams, your soul will be in trouble. And your drive will prove to be one of the most valuable assets when you run a business.

Today, let me tell you about experiences related to a few important milestones in the life of my business. I will jump right to unleashr, which is my third company.

I know there are many entrepreneurs out there who had multiple companies and learned the business by doing. I believe I am one of them. Even though I learned about business at uni, life has taught me so much. Also, in the line of entrepreneurs, perhaps, being luckier than most, I don’t have rags to riches story to tell.

I haven’t been dirt poor, although I had seen difficult times, and all my companies made it to success. The first one had its life cycle, and I decided not to take it to the next phase, but to start anew.

Also, all the companies were, and are, different, as I have been growing together with my businesses.

Milestone #1: Establishing unleashr

So, the first key milestone I want to talk about was when I established unleashr. It was born out of dissatisfaction, as many businesses are born out of some frustration.

Initially, it served business clients only, specifically, in the business transformation space, where I worked with senior leaders of medium to large businesses. That includes CEOs, Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Directors of these companies depending on the size and complexity of their organization structure.

I advised them to lead their teams through turbulent times and helped them as leaders to make the best out of these high-risk transformational periods.

As with our mentoring business, the approach has been unique and innovative. According to the feedback of the clients, highly effective as well. 

I developed a methodology, which puts people in the center. And, naturally, everyone will tell you the same. In practice, in such situations, the resources available to support individuals are so scarce that standardized methods take priority. This is what I was dissatisfied with. No transformation program reported unsuccessful and yet, numerous programs were in delay and reported efficiency drops following implementation. I am a bit of an efficiency freak. So, I spent quite a bit of time finding methods and ways that increase the effectiveness of transformational periods and yet don’t take as much toll on the people. This is what I built in that business.

Such progress and evolution are almost straightforward.

Not like when I took my business into a new direction when we started offering mentoring services to individuals. Again, a bit of natural evolution, though with a twist.

From that, you might assume that I run a business, develop it, and start a new direction equipped with the knowledge and experiences.

Milestone #2: Going online

So, here comes the second milestone I share with you. For that, I took the business online. Inevitable for scalability. Still in the same brand but with an expansion.

Imagine that you are standing in the middle of Times Square, early afternoon, in the summer. Literally, thousands of people are heading in your direction. Many tell you something, want to sell you something, want to take a photo with you. The experience is overwhelming. This is how I felt for the first time.

Gazillion offers around what works online; my head was buzzing from the webinars and courses.

  • What to do with Facebook ads?
  • Which funnels work the best?
  • How to provide engaging content?

While all that was extremely useful, I immersed myself in that world and came out somewhat wiser.
One of the most important learnings was that without a specific view on the brand and the offering I put on the table, it doesn’t matter how good the Facebook tactics are. I also learned that business strategy comes first, even if it is easy to get lost in the tactics.

Milestone #3: Building a brand

The third milestone will be about the brand we are preparing to launch. This is what we are working on. Also exciting, and this one also builds on the success of the previous product and service lines, but we take it one step further. This one was born out of dissatisfaction too.

Building a new brand that is different, and yet will step on the shoulders of a previous brand, is challenging. As with all the other areas of the business, it requires a constant balancing between strategizing and the delivery. It also keeps me on my toes, which I really enjoy.

What’s different is the risk management around it. Also, the challenge to adopt new things: information, techniques in marketing, branding, and the project management aspect as well.

I wanted to say ‘in general’, but in business, there is no ‘in general’, perhaps. So, in terms of the operations, to align the existing business lines and the new brand requires discipline, both in planning and in delivery. That we ensure through project management, all our operations are project-based.

Personally, because I am somewhat of a workaholic, I need to be conscious of my personal time. I also must make sure I eat healthily and take care of my body.
A business owner is the heart and soul of the business, which means your health has a primary impact on the health and success of your business as well.

I hope today’s podcast gave you a bit of an insight into what it is really like to start and run a business.

See you in the next episode of the Honestly series.