If there is one key lesson I have learned over the past few years, it has been to create a bias towards taking action and pursue this on a consistent basis. We’ve spoken before about the compounding benefits of building, sharing and producing work on a consistent basis, but the roots of this are born out of your ability to take action.
“Results come to those who “act” while others are discovering the “right” ways to generate results.”
It is easy to spend time weighing up options and trying to figure out the perfect way to solve a problem. This is not moving you in the direction of solving it though. You can fool yourself into thinking you are being productive, but until you become outcome oriented, and start hitting Key performance Indicators, it is best not to spend time overthinking.
Making executive decisions, iterating and learning from taking action, as you’ll see below, is how most startups and early stage businesses bootstrap successfully.
Creating a bias toward taking action is probably the single most important habit you can create for you and your business. Maintaining this bias towards action allows you to rapidly experiment with ideas and figure out what works best.
It can be a daunting task to think about attacking a large problem or project without knowing where to begin. Break it down into the smallest meaningful steps you can take to move the needle in the direction of the outcome you are seeking.
Breaking macro projects down into manageable chunks allows you to maintain a bias toward being action oriented.
“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned”
What does this look like?
The most successful entrepreneurs always find a way to make something happen. Taking the first step in the direction of your outcomes is what helps you advance. Doing this on a consistent basis yields significant compounding benefits over time.
Momentum is built through taking consistent action, so do something that moves you forwards. Even a small act is significant. More often than not, thinking about doing something is more exhausting than actually doing it.
Jump out the aeroplane first, and find out how the parachute works on the way down. Whatever you do, make sure you jump!
A simple question to ask yourself that can yield powerful results is; what is the highest leverage action I can execute on right now? Write it down and start taking action.
If you want a way to document and journal your actions on a daily and weekly basis, download our Productivity Playbook here.
Taking action towards measurable outcomes should be your primary goal. As we mentioned above, think about the end goal of the macro project you want to take action against and reverse engineer the micro steps to take in order to move you towards it.
Tracking your progress allows you to monitor if your micro steps are moving you towards your desired outcome. Not only this, but it keeps you and your team accountable on a daily and weekly basis.
You can't manage what you can't measure is a very accurate sentiment. Create measurable KPIs and milestones at key points on the journey towards your outcome. By creating a waterfall of KPI’s and actionable steps, you can more easily track progress and accountability, thereby allowing you to more efficiently iterate and achieve your outcomes.
Establishing a process-oriented mindset allows you to create an environment that is conducive to taking action, iterating and scaling.
Having a bias towards taking action is hard without a good decision making framework. Inaction is expensive and is often correlated with opportunity cost. Time is money when it comes to growing your business and the best leaders make important decisions decisively.
“Information isn’t what’s scarce; it’s the willingness to do something with it.”
Honing your decision making skills is an ongoing process. One example for quick decision making we can look at is how to leverage Hicks Law.
Hick’s Law predicts that the time and the effort it takes to make a decision, increases with the number of options.
This means that increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time. Leverage Hicks law when making decisions that are time critical.
Hick’s Law is not as useful for complex decisions with larger numbers of variables. If decisions require extensive research and a large amount of data points for consideration, Hick’s law is not as applicable.
Intuition is effective when making decisions in an area where the decision maker has much more depth to consider. You could also argue that relying on logic is not a good decision-making framework at all due to the highly uncertain nature of the world we live in. Indeed as consumers, we often make decisions based on emotion and then justify them through logic after the fact.
Hicks law can also be used to consider the decision making process for users of your product when they come into contact with it also. When users are making purchase decisions online, reducing the number of perceived options on the screen makes the interface more user friendly. Couple the application of Hick’s Law for Product Design with the emotional decision making process of their purchase journey and you can create a meaningful
Making the right decision isn’t always easy.
“Good decisions can lead to bad outcomes and vice versa.”
Taking the initiative to simply make a decision and move forward is the only barrier to progress. Nobody can fully predict the future. There is no such thing as a good decision until after the fact. Focus on becoming better at making a decision and executing against it, rather than pondering whether the decision is a good one or not.
Experts in any given field have usually mastered the art of decision making that grants them a bias towards taking action. Through repetition and making enough important decisions they have developed such good mental representations of their particular task that they instinctively see the way around the problem, solving it in a smart way, not a hard way.
This allows for less friction and a more efficient path for business growth. Creating a bias towards taking action within your business has to come from you as a leader. Reduce distractions and make smaller decisions more frequently. As we’ve seen, by failing to make decisions, the complexity of the problem surrounding them increases over time. Take action every day on small decisions and compound it over time.
Declan is the founder of DM Nutrition, Edinburgh Chapter director for Startup Grind, and works in business development for BackHug. In this inter...
Borja is the founder of Four15 Digital, a full stack Digital Marketing Agency that help businesses execute on their digital growth strategy. In this..