16 Tricks for Making Lightning-Fast Decisions

As a startup founder, your team is constantly relying on you to make informed decisions. And usually, you don't have the luxury of being able to hem and haw. We asked 16 entrepreneurs to give us their tips for making well-thought-out decisions on the go.

A. Trust My Gut

2015-01-12-BrittanyHodak.jpgIt's become cliched because it works. Trust your instincts. Your brain is an incredibly powerful machine capable of amazing things, including making good decisions. The best decisions are often the ones you make the fastest, before you have a chance to second-guess yourself over and over. - Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

A. Recognize the Danger of Indecision

2015-01-12-DougBend.jpgThe most successful entrepreneurs recognize that they do not have time to get all the facts for the dozens of decisions they make each day. Instead, they need to gather just enough information to make sound decisions so their company can move forward. Some of those decisions will be wrong, but it is better to learn from those mistakes and try again than to be immobilized by indecision. - Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

A. Acknowledge What I'm Trying to Optimize For

2015-01-12-kelseyMeyer.jpgMaking decisions can be difficult when you don't exactly know what you're trying to accomplish. A great mentor asked me once what I was trying to optimize for in my personal life when I asked for feedback on deciding whether I should move or not. I've since used this thought process of thinking through what I'm trying to optimize for in different scenarios to help bring the best option to light. - Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.

A. Focus on What's Most Important

2015-01-12-JamesSimpson.jpgAs an entrepreneur you will often be faced with a variety of difficult decisions. These decisions are so difficult because they tend to head in very different directions. The reason that a mission statement is so important for a company is because it is vital for decision making. Keeping that in mind allows you to focus only on the decisions that keep you on course. - James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

A. Establish Litmus Tests Early On

2015-01-12-SharamFouladgarMercer.jpgThe best way to quickly know if you're making an on or off track decision is to know what your gut check tests are. For us, when it comes to rolling out new features, building on consumer asks, or generally redirecting resources, we look to our established product principles, brand values and culture characteristics. If what we are contemplating doesn't measure up or fit in, we don't do it. - Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

A. Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix

2015-01-12-BrennanWhite.pngOnce I learned of the Eisenhower decision matrix, I realized I had been putting off extremely important tasks and decisions simply because they weren't urgent. Learning how Ike made decisions has made me more confident, and therefore faster, at making good decisions. - Brennan White, Cortex

A. Understand the Big Picture

2015-01-12-RananLachman.pngGet as much data as quickly as possible and receive notifications as circumstances change. Basically, always stay in the know so that when you are making decisions it'll be that much easier. By being knowledgable about the complete situation, you're able to avoid asking for the background story and can move straight to the question at hand. - Ranan Lachman, Pley

A. Survey the Audience

2015-01-12-AnthonyJohnson.pngNothing is better than asking your audience or trusted advisors for their input. There are many resources for surveys; however, if you need a faster turnaround and don't want to mess with it, create an email list that you can easily use from time to time. You'll be amazed on how often they don't agree with what you originally wanted to do, and usually for good reason. - Anthony Johnson, American Injury Attorney Group

A. Focus on Getting to 90 Percent

2015-01-12-SamSaxton.jpgParticularly in meetings, the last ten percent of a decision is what puts you far over the time limit. Once you hit ninety percent, you can often make the right decision and table the minutia for follow up. - Sam Saxton, Salter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs

A. Ask, "Does This Really Matter?"

2015-01-12-EricaDhawan.jpgI first ask myself if this decision really matters. Next I ask, "Does this really matter for me, for my business and further, does it matter right now?" Many times the answer is actually no. There are things that I feel strongly about but that don't matter to whatever I'm trying to get done at the moment. I can save myself time struggling through a decision that doesn't even need to be made. - Erica Dhawan, Cotential

A. Prioritize and Delegate

2015-01-12-JessLevin.jpgMaking better decisions comes down to prioritization and delegation. Prioritize the decisions you need to make by impact on yourbusiness and allocate your time accordingly. If you're spending too much time on decisions that aren't vital, delegate the less essential decisions and review recommendations quickly together to keep the team and business moving forward. - Jess Levin, Carats & Cake

A. Give Myself a Deadline for the Decision

2015-01-12-AndyKaruza.jpgIt's good to set a deadline for a decision, such as at the end of the meeting, the day, or before the end of the quarter. This creates a sense of urgency, keeping things moving forward, but you're also likely to avoid paralysis by analysis. In fact, it's very easy to overthink things and make bad decisions because of it, as you might introduce doubts that conflict with your gut instincts. - Andy Karuza,SpotSurvey

A. Chart the Decision on a Graph

2015-01-12-NickFriedman.jpgPut cost of the decision (time or money) on the x-axis, and put impact on your business of the decision on the y-axis. Chart the outcome. If its low cost/high impact, then it's a no-brainer. If high impact/high cost, then plan the appropriate resources to make it happen. If its low impact, then chuck it away. - Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk

A. Toss a Coin

2015-01-12-FirasKittaneh.pngLast year, the Freakonomics team conducted a research study challenging their fans to make a decision based on flipping a coin. Participants would have to act based on the randomized coin flip and take follow-up surveys. Similarly, when I have trouble making a decision, I also flip a coin and go with what the coin dictates. If I'm really not happy with the coin toss, then I go with the opposite. -Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

A. Always Do a Pre-Mortem Analysis

2015-01-12-KelseyRecht.pngAs an entrepreneur you always deal with uncertainty, which can stop you from making big decisions quickly. When I make big decisions, I always do a pre-mortem analysis on if this initiative or decision goes the wrong way, why will it happen. This allows me to analyze both the upside and downside quickly. If the downside is not high, I make aggressive decisions quickly. - Kelsey Recht , VenueBook

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.