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April 17, 2014

3 ways to use your business intuition

By Vanessa Stoykov

While business is a combination of process, knowledge, contacts and vision, there is another important aspect of business that can be a powerful competitive advantage. This is tapping into your business intuition – hunches that you know are right, but have no empirical evidence to prove it. Gut instinct that a certain direction will lead to success, or even that instinct that tells you the path you are on is the wrong one.

We all have business intuition, but many of us have been trained to ignore it – or at the least try and prove it with data before we take it on board.

With big corporates this is sometimes necessary. You can’t tell a board of directors that you have a feeling and the company should go with it. You can however, over a period of time, show great leadership, so that when you indicate a direction you wish to take the business, there is enough trust and respect that your opinion is followed.

In a smaller business, intuition is critical to moving forward on a fast track.

Here are three ways to tap into that intuition and move forward faster:

1. Trust your instincts around people. If you are about to go into any kind of business relationship, take time to have a lunch or even breakfast before you do. Why break bread? Because this is the best way to get a sense of someone’s motivation, what makes them tick and how they would relate to you and your business. Once you have spent some time with them, tap into your gut feeling about the person. Could you work with them? Will they do what they say they will? Once you feel positive and confident with their abilities, move forward while maintaining the standard due diligence. If your gut says no, save yourself the time and heartache.

2. Listen to your instinct around timing. Sometimes a deal comes up that is too good to be true (which usually means it is!) Or sometimes, you don’t feel ready to move forward but everyone else around you is urging you on. At the end of the day, you must control the timing of how fast or slow things move in your business. So if your gut is telling you to slow down, then do it. Alternatively, if you know there is a faster way, and nobody else sees it, then go for it. Explore the options that help make this option work. After all, if you don’t trust your own timing, how can you commit to making the plan work strategically? You will always have your doubts.

3. Believe in the big idea. We all have times where we think of an idea that is so different – completely left of centre – that our imagination is captured and our motivation is fuelled.  Most of the time however, we put those ideas on the shelf. Too busy, not the right timing, or simply a lack of confidence that you could actually pull it off. Often it is easier to think of the business you already have rather than the new idea that could enhance your position, but take a lot of effort to make change happen. I urge you not to ignore these big ideas. For me, No More Practice was one of mine, that I did not ignore, and I have never regretted it.

When have you made a strategic decision based on your business intuition?

Join the conversation with me on Twitter @ceovanessa

Visit the No More Practice website - click here