Several years ago, a group of researchers at the The School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University, conducted an experiment on the use of instinct to make decisions. Participants were shown rapidly-moving pairs of numbers that were on opposite sides of a computer screen – supposedly daily stock market returns. They could not memorise the numbers because they moved too rapidly. They were then asked to ‘guess’ which row of numbers had the higher average. When shown 24 pairs of numbers, the accuracy of the ‘guesses’ was 90%.
What the researchers were attempting to show is that there is some part of our brains that relates to ‘gut feelings’ about things – and that often these ‘gut feelings’, which we call intuition, are correct.
Perhaps, it was his strong ‘gut feeling’ that caused Mark Zuckerberg to quit school, give up studying and follow his dream of creating Facebook. Somehow, he ‘knew’ that he had a ‘winner’ idea which he could monetise.
This is not a household name, but Germano’s story points out just how a decision based upon instinct can somehow just be right. Today, Germano is a co-owner of a social media marketing agency. That by itself is no big deal, except that it was one of the first such agencies ever to be found. And the idea came to Germano when he ran for a political office in Connecticut in 2005 – long before social media had much of a grasp on the general public.
Germano decided to run his campaign using social media. People thought he was nuts, but he just ‘knew’ that it could work. And it did. From there, he co-founded Carrot Creative, again based upon the intuition that social media would become a huge marketing factor. Today, he has clients such as Disney, Target, and Jaguar.
Zuckerberg and Germano are examples of entrepreneurs who have made it big. But acting on intuition is something that any business owner should consider.
1. Act on those abiding interests
When an idea is sticking in your head, it is probably intuition telling you that there is value in it. When you are thinking about that idea so much that it keeps you up at night, it’s time to pursue it. And because your intuition is so strong, you will be driven to work at it – it becomes a passion.
To put a bit of rationality to that intuition, you can try some writing exercises. Remember how you had to write in the university? So, get your pencil and paper out and write down the answers to some questions.
This helps you develop a plan to bring your idea to reality.
2. Cast the rules aside
As you embark on something new, based upon your intuition, there will be others who will want to advise and mentor you, based on the standard rules. For example, they will want you to develop a traditional business plan that shows not only your professional writing but is also full of tips on how to craft it.
Your intuition may tell you that confining yourself to the traditional path of business development is not the way to go. Maybe you just want to pitch your idea to investors face-to-face, without formal documents. Maybe you want to go the crowdfunding route.
You know your idea best – so follow your gut on how to promote it. Be ready to ask for help if you want to show your partners an impeccable piece of writing.
3. Listen to those hunches
If something just doesn’t ‘feel’ right, run away from it.
Suppose you are looking for investors. You have already launched, but you need capital to raise it to the next level. So, you have bitten the bullet, got some writing help, and you have your plan for growth codified. To ensure that it looks professional, you have to correct all mistakes and just make it flawless.
Then you meet with a potential investor and present the written plan. The conversation that follows is making you uncomfortable. Perhaps, the investor is sending signals that they want a type of participation that entails relinquishing control of your idea. You feel it in your gut that this is wrong. End that meeting with a diplomatic handshake and a ‘thank you’. And never go back to that well again.
4. Change as your intuition tells you to
Being flexible is an important character trait for entrepreneurs. You’ve begun with your great idea. As you move that idea forward, you still need to rely on hunches and intuition. Now, these may be based on the knowledge you have accumulated within your niche – and that is a reasoned activity. However, as you accumulate that knowledge, your ‘gut’ may become active again.
Maybe the software project you are developing isn’t really going to give enough value. Maybe your intuition tells you that the product you are designing isn’t going to cut it.
If you aren’t as excited about your idea now as you were in the beginning, there is a reason. Your ‘gut’ is speaking to you. Don’t rush – ask some professionals for advice. Be flexible enough to make changes that will renew your excitement.
5. Learn to separate
Businesses are certainly based upon rational activity. There are a lot of basic operations that require reasoned processes and procedures – budget, marketing, inventory and logistics. These are an integral part of a business operation.
Then there are those other business decisions that are made from the ‘gut’. These are just as important and can make the difference between success and failure.
The author is a freelance writer who is seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth. Currently, she’s working in Essay Catcher company and trying to improve herself in the blogging career. Angela is an experienced and self-driven specialist who cannot imagine her life without writing.