One of the paradoxes of being a small business owner is that you must be decisive, yet thoughtful. Time is of the essence in today’s dynamic business environment, and delaying a decision can be costly.

On the other hand, being too hasty can be just as damaging, if not more so. That’s because the effects may not be felt for several years. Nobody can predict the future with 100 percent accuracy, of course; but without careful analysis of the facts, what appears to be a good move today may be remembered as a tremendous blunder down the road.

Of course, good information sources are the key to making good business decisions. But you must first determine the nature of the problem you are trying to solve. It may be a loss of sales, a drop in profits or an increase in the age of your accounts receivable. Look closely; what may seem to be the obvious problem may only be a symptom of something more serious.

For example, the actual problem may not be the age of your accounts receivable, but rather that you don’t have enough time to adequately review your financial reports, so quick action can be taken before a cash crisis emerges. Only by examining the root of the problem, can you start to figure out viable solutions.

Once you are certain you’ve identified the problem, you can begin a search for solutions. Write down your ideas and talk to others in your field about other possibilities. Maybe someone you know has overcome a similar problem. Good ideas, whether from brainstorming or other sources, should not be killed because you don’t know if new ideas will succeed.


Santa Barbara SCORE meets every Wednesday, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., at 402 E. Gutierrez St., Santa Barbara. No appointment is necessary. For more information, call 805.563.0084, visit SCORE online or click here to register for counseling.

In addition, the Santa Barbara SCORE Chapter publishes a great tool for aspiring entrepreneurs, How to Start a Business in Santa Barbara County.

If possible, test out some of your ideas on a small scale before deciding on the approach that will best resolve the problem. There is no magic cure to the myriad details and time constraints you face as an entrepreneur. However, you can take control of major issues and address the elements of your business that impact your immediate survival. Next, you can take the time to plan for a successful future.

In communities throughout America, entrepreneurs who once thought they had to go it alone obtained some expert advice from the Service Corps of Retired Executives Association, “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” More than 11,500 businessmen and women donate their expertise and experience to help entrepreneurs succeed in business. SCORE has provided small business counseling to more than 4.5 million Americans. And, all SCORE counselors honor a code of ethics to assure that your business secrets are protected. Counseling is confidential.

Click here to plug into a wealth of business know-how from the Santa Barbara chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE counselors offer free, confidential advice about every aspect of starting, running and growing a successful business, even mentoring.