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Business Strategy

How to Make Great Business Decisions [Excel Template]

Photo by Jens Lelie

One of my favorite business books of all time goes like this:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”, Alice asked.

-“That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where…” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“… so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you”re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

This important business lesson is from “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll (of course!)

And I’m re-printing it for you today for a very important reason.

In business, it’s easy to be like Alice.

It can take far longer to get somewhere because you don’t understand what should go into making a good business decision.

But – making effective, powerful business decisions in 2016 can actually very simple.

All you need to do is follow the free template  below… It all starts with understanding what matters to you most, then use those important-to-you things to define your decision-making criteria.

For example, one of the most important factors I use to make those everyday decisions such as when to wake up and what to eat for breakfast is my productivity. Because when I’m at my most productive, I’m living my message and making an impact in the world…

So I ask myself, Will doing this allow me to more or less productive?

That’s why I choose to wake up at 7am, and eat a mostly paleo diet, avoiding refined sugar, flour and alcohol as much as possible.

The same goes for your business – when you understand the criteria that matters most to you, you can chose the niche, products and activities that are most likely to help you reach your goals.

While gut feeling, intuition and inner guidance can definitely play a role in business, sometimes good ole fashioned logic can help you take the emotion or guesswork out of your decisions… giving you the peace of mind to move forward, knowing that you’ve made the best decision possible.

A few years ago my friend Mynders Glover introduced me to his Failproof Business Decision-Making Model.  This spreadsheet template takes the guesswork out of defining your priorities and making decisions so you have more to go on than the feelings of the moment.

Being a creative-type, I didn’t want to try this out… I thought, how the heck is a spreadsheet going to help me decide what I want to do?

Then I tried it… and it changed everything. The very next year we tripled the revenue in our business. Tripled.

Now I want to share this simple template with you, so you can make powerful choices in your business.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Click here to download Mynder’s “Opportunity Filter” business decision making model and the sample template I filled out to determine my top business priorities.

Step 2: Choose 5-7 evaluation criteria that you’d like to use to gauge your business opportunities based on what’s important to you. .

These can include things like your core values, profitability, impact, and goals for the year. Place each criteria at the top of each column of the blank template where it says “Evaluation Criteria #1” etc.

If you look at my sample template, you’ll see that the criteria I use are:

  • Life/Work Balance and Personal Freedom
  • Internal: Personal Satisfaction (business as an expression of who I am and what I care about)
  • External: Making a big impact on my following and positioning my brand
  • Revenue/Profitability
  • ?Build My List
  • Develop Partnerships and Future Opportunities

Step 3: Identify 5 or more business opportunities that you want to prioritize.

These can include niches, business ideas, processes and initiatives. Processes include things like getting your business systems up and running or implementing a social media marketing plan. Initiatives include big projects such as events or product launches. Check my sample template for examples.

Place these opportunity into the rows labeled “Opportunity #1” etc.

Step 4: Now for the fun part! It’s time to rank each opportunity by each evaluation criteria.

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being utter fulfillment and 1 being steer clear), how much does that opportunity allow you to fulfill that criteria?

For example, here’s how my 6 opportunities ranked for the criteria “Life/Work Balance and Personal Freedom” and why:

  1. Put business systems in place (a perfect 10) – The  right systems will give me more freedom and allow me to expand my team.
  2. Relaunch Message to Money course to bigger audience (just a 5) – While this is an important project to me, it takes a significant amount of time to launch and requires me to be available at specific times for group coaching calls (none of which is particularly good for work/life balance).
  3. Hold the Video Superhereos Summit (a healthy 7) – The Summit will create a lot of partnerships, a strong list and passive revenue that will allow me to make an impact and bring in money without burning myself out.
  4. Create Mid-Tier Done-for-You Web Package (a strong 8) – This new lower-priced package will allow me to delegate much of the done-for-you work to my team rather than doing it all myself.
  5. Live Events (a low 4) – This is exciting to me but, because I haven’t done a live event before, I know the first one will take a lot of work to handle the logistics and fill the room.
  6. Lead Generation (a middle 6) – While lead generation activities such as guest blogging, press and social media are critical to the success of any business, they also take a lot of time and effort.

Step 5: Once you’ve ranked each opportunity, it’s time to add up the numbers in the total assessment column and see which ones comes out the highest…

This is the part of the process that totally blew me away! According to my own values and priorities in 2012 (the first time I used this template), the Video Superhero Summit turned out to be the biggest opportunity in my business and it was something that was at the bottom of my list!

Once I realized this, I quickly swung into gear to get this new venture off the ground. Looking back, the 6 Superhero Summits we’ve done built our list and put us on the map in a way I never would have imagined, and I didn’t want to do them before I used this template!

Step 6 (optional): In life, not all things are created equally. If some criteria are much more important to you than others, than feel free to weight each criteria.

Weighting allows you to fine-tune the evaluation process to reflect what’s most important to you (and give a little help to your pet projects). I recommend giving each criteria weighting a percentage of the whole so they add up to 100%.

NOTE: With the weighting, my top 2 priorities stayed the same, while the remaining 4 shifted.

Here’s to knowing exactly what to do… just in time for the New Year!

So, tell me, what’s your top business priority for 2016? Let me know in the comments below… 🙂

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Wendy Williams

    Hi Marissa. The zip file is no longer resolving at this link. Do you still offer this tool?

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi Wendy, this is a very old blog post so that link has expired, but check out this website directly from Mynders Glover and see if you can download it there: http://myndersglover.com/opportunity-filter/ Hope that helps!

      Reply ·
  2. Jim

    Review existing systems and adding new ones

    Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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