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  • Writer's pictureAvy-Loren Cohen

Startup Path: Making the Best of the Worst Decisions

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

Making decisions can be relatively easy for some and outright frustrating for others. Regardless where you lie on this spectrum, it becomes much more challenging to make a decision when you are in a Startup with limited resources - especially if you know what the correct decision "should" be, but cannot execute this and then have to select an inferior decision. Does this sound familiar?

The Mental Impact of Decision Making

Having to make the best of the worst decisions is not a new concept, many of us go through this to varying degrees throughout our lifetime - so why write about this in the context of business? It is mentally painful for an individual to have to make less than a good decision, and when this happens multiple negative outcomes can result from this decision. This is especially seen in startup companies who are challenged with making decisions on issues in the present moment. When management and founders make these decisions it becomes agonizing, almost torturous because they know what they should do - but sadly, are not in the position to do.

Making one decision can haunt or stress an individual depending on the person and the severity of the decision. A good example of this is usually connected to the issue of funding, where the company is coming close to zero or is already at zero funds. This causes people to panic, and in many situations, it is justified. I always say that you will know the true character of a person when they are cornered - they may decide to; fight or flight, steal, deceive or do things in an honorable manner. Most of the time people will not do anything illegal, but often they will accept sub-par deals as it relates to an investor capitalizing on the investment opportunity. Founders have been known to accept terms that in the short run the financial pains go away, but later on, they realize that they signed a deal that could cost them their own company due to onerous stipulations in the investment contract.

Making Errors is Part of Your Business Education

Not every decision may be as extreme as the aforementioned, but most startup founders know what the pains are as they work tirelessly to build their startups. So here are the words of wisdom I wish to impart upon you - startup company founders. You will make numerous errors along the way, you might even fail to launch your startup - but this is all part of the process of building a startup company.I do wish to point out a very important statement, that is, it is relatively "ok" to make a mistake, but it is even more important on how a person responds to this mistake or fixes it more precisely. In a startup you better have the constitution for these types of challenges, because this is not a race - this is a long and possibly painful marathon. So yes, you may make some bad decisions, and you may be able to overcome them as time passes when you have the resources. I would suggest that you create a corrective strategy and the associated timeline and budget to fix these in the future. And do keep in mind that over time you will also not be making the same mistakes again or getting yourself into the same situations - and if you do, you must reconsider your ability to lead and make key strategic decisions.

Making errors can be very costly to a startup, but I also suggest that you consider this as part of your business education. At present, these types of situations are not taught in business schools, though I wish they were as I believe founders of a startup need to understand what they are going to come up against and how to navigate the company forward successfully. I know many individuals who have been through this situation, smart educated individuals. Some of these individuals brought their companies to a point where they just had to sell as they couldn't advance their companies, some lost control of their companies, but most bounced back and started another startup without incurring those same problems and to this date, these founders and their companies have done very well. There is a likely chance that the project may never get off the ground or that you may fail. But there is also a very good chance that you may succeed, and for this reason, you must persevere with passion, commitment, laser-focus, and with purpose in realizing your vision.

One excellent way you can reduce errors is to get yourself an individual with startup experience who can act in three key roles: Business Coach, Mentor, and Strategic Consultant. Finding this type of individual with this combination of skills and experience will be a blessing for you and your startup, as this person should be able to guide you and provide you with all the experience and knowledge to help prevent many major obstacles. When you are creating your startup budget, be sure to include a budget to hire such an individual and place this person on your board. This type of individual can the "ace up your sleeve" and I can tell you from years of experience, from the hundreds of startup companies I have worked with over the years - the ones who have or are working with such an individual are the startups that succeed more so than those without such an individual as part of their team.

In Summation

To summarize, making the best of the worst decisions is part of the startup world. You will make mistakes, you will make poor decisions and when this happens - you must plan for the correcting of these decisions and also learn from them as not to repeat in the future. If you want to improve your odds of success, find and hire a startup consultant, coach and mentor all rolled into one person who will be part of your success team.

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