Do you remember the last time you made a decision to make a major equipment purchase or hire for a certain position? What was the process that you used? How did you come to the final decision? Was there an actual systematic process that you consciously used, or was it something you just did?

Many times, business owners make a major decision emotionally, and he or she later tries to explain or justify it logically. Using this approach can be a recipe for disaster. Let’s talk about an approach you can use that will help you to avoid making this mistake.

For an analogy, let’s look at the business of Major League Baseball. It is late in the game and the visiting team is sending in a left-handed pitcher to face your left-handed batter due up next. Your home team manager responds by calling on one of his clutch pinch hitters, who bats right. According to the percentages, a right-handed hitter has a better chance of getting a hit off a left-handed pitcher.

The visiting manager responds by having his pitcher intentionally walk your pinch hitter, giving the team a chance to set up a double-play opportunity by pitching to the next batter, who happens to be left-handed. As the next batter comes to the plate, he gets a sign from the third-base coach to bunt down the third-base line on the first pitch. He attempts and misses. This causes the home team to pull their third basemen in closer at third, to protect against another attempted bunt. And so the dance continues until the play is executed.

A simpler example is the late and great Rudolf Walter Wanderone, better known as Minnesota Fats, the great legendary pool player who had a basic strategy for playing the game he loved so much. Before he made his shot, he always considered how it would set him up for the next three or four shots that would follow. It worked for him. Over the years of his career, he won many billiard games and earned a lot of money.

When it comes to making decisions that affect your green industry business, the strategy of Minnesota Fats could work for you, too.

Here is how the process works. You have a decision to make. Making that decision will create a number of potential outcomes, which could be positive or negative. The key is to first think through the possible outcomes and their repercussions. Identify what your next steps would be if the best thing happens, and what your options or next steps could be if the worst thing does.

For example, let’s say you’re planning a major equipment purchase for your green industry business. This piece of equipment will allow you to take on bigger jobs and get them done with fewer employees. Makes sense so far. If that’s all there was to it we could stop right there. However, when you start to think through this decision you begin to see some of the consequences of making this major equipment purchase.

First, buying this piece of equipment creates the need for additional insurance premiums. Do you have the resources to cover that increased expense? Do you have the means to securely transport and adequate space to store it?

What are your options if you cannot answer yes to the previous questions?

Next on the list is the need for training five employees to become certified to safely and effectively operate this piece of equipment. That means you will need to schedule them for a full day of training. During that time, your shop will be shorthanded, because these five employees will be unavailable for any other work. You take that into account and decide to schedule the training during a slow time, which will allow the rest of your team to cover the workload for that particular day.

What happens if you can only schedule them during a time that is a busy part of your season? What are some of the possible consequences? What will you do to deal with that concern? If that doesn’t work, do you have a plan “B” to deal with the situation?

Another consequence to take into consideration is that when these employees are finally certified, there will be a period of time before they will be able to operate this equipment at full capacity. That needs to be taken into account when scheduling new assignments involving this piece of equipment.

What will you do if it takes certain crew members a longer period of time before they are able to operate this equipment at full capacity? What will you do to deal with that concern? Again, if that doesn’t work, do you have a plan “B” to address the situation?

The key is to be prepared with various options that address any bumps in the road that invariably could come up. If you have a strategy that will allow you to respond to good or bad consequences three, four or five steps later in the process, this will ultimately allow you to come out ahead.

You can take this process as many steps as you would like. The main point I’m trying to make here is to be able to think through a decision process in advance. This will allow you to reduce the number of short-sighted business decisions that you make.

Some of the benefits to using this strategic approach to making decisions in your green industry business is that it will allow you to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to tackling challenges and solving problems that inevitably will come along on a regular basis.

It will reduce the number of problems or complications that can occur when you do not use a forward-thinking approach.

One of the best ways to learn this process and make it part of your entrepreneurial tool box is to teach it to your management team. By helping them walk through the process until they become completely familiar with it, they will work smarter and not harder.

So the next time you are faced with making a major decision, try using the Fast-Forward Thinking Process to help you do it. Let me know how it works out.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom Borg works with small and mid-size green industry companies to improve customer acquisition and retention. For more information or to ask him a question, contact him at 734-404-5909 or email him at: or visit his website at: