This thought might seem like a bizarre topic but, when you do stop and think about it, there are far too many decisions you make as a business owner that you probably don’t take the time to think through completely.
Okay, the first question you raise: Can you ever think through an issue completely? No … unless you have identified all the concerns related to that issue and have all the answers clearly defined.
Here’s a scenario: Someone who knows someone in your company comes in to ask for a donation to the youth baseball league in your community. Odds are you make that contribution at a level you’re comfortable with, unless you’re not a baseball fan or a supporter of youth activities. It’s kind of a guilt trip when you’re asked. How can you be against baseball? Or young people who want to play sports?
If you think about the request logically instead of emotionally, you weigh the variables, such as whether you have the budget allocated for that level of donation. Can you lessen your tax burden through the contribution? Will you gain any market visibility or brand awareness with the donation? Is it a cause you want to be identified with as a company?
That’s one example of the importance of taking a few minutes to weigh your options when asked for a charitable contribution, rather than just handing over the cash. Whether it’s financial or an in-kind gift through employees donating their time and expertise to the cause, take some time to think about it.
A suggestion that might prove helpful: Develop a decision making check list to stimulate the thought process when it comes to making critical choices for your company.
#1 might be – Will the choice help us make more money? Sub-factors for this check point might be: How soon? How much? At what cost?
#2 could be – Will this decision increase our brand awareness? Build customer loyalty? Or possibly detract from our brand identity?
#3 – Will this enable us to increase market share in the community or other markets?
#4 – Do we have the budget for this expenditure/donation/expansion?
#5 – What is required of our company to fulfill this obligation or complete this project? How much time will be required of our employees?
When we’ve conducted fund raising projects for clients, there is often a desire to conduct a volunteer project such as a bake sale or car wash. These are good events for getting people involved in a cause, but when one stops and thinks about it, these relatively simple events require loads of time for a small return. If your company or organization had to pay for the volunteer’s time, odds are the event would lose money!
A decision matrix such as roughly outlined above can reduce the risk of making bad decisions, and save money that might be invested in the wrong venture. And there are times when having an independent third party to provide counsel on the concept is well worth the investment.
Take the time to think it through!
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