Oli Paterson

Decision-Making for Small Business Owners – Part 3

The journey through the intricacies of decision-making does not end with the execution of a choice. It extends into a reflective phase where the outcomes are analyzed, and lessons are learnt. This final installment of our series sheds light on the importance of post-decision reflection and the continuous learning cycle it triggers, which is essential for the evolution and resilience of small businesses.

Learning from Outcomes: Successes and Failures Alike

In my experience, every decision, irrespective of its outcome, holds invaluable lessons. Adopting a mindset that views both successes and failures as opportunities for growth can dramatically alter the trajectory of a small business. This perspective is inspired by the concept of a ‘black box’ in aviation, as discussed by Matthew Syed in his TEDx talk. Just as the aviation industry learns from every flight, small businesses can adopt a similar approach to decision-making, using outcomes as a feedback loop for continuous improvement.

The Power of Reflective Practice

Drawing from the insights of Kahneman and Klein on intuitive expertise, it becomes clear that reflection is not just about looking back. It’s about building forward. Developing a reflective practice allows us to understand the ‘why’ behind our decisions, fostering a deeper intuition and better decision-making skills over time. For small businesses, where resources are often limited, such an approach ensures that lessons learned from past decisions are effectively applied to future strategies, maximizing resources and opportunities.

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Building a culture that prioritizes learning and adaptation is crucial. It involves not just the business owner but the entire team. Encouraging open discussions about decisions, their outcomes, and the lessons learned fosters a culture of transparency and continuous improvement. This culture is the bedrock upon which small businesses can innovate, adapt, and thrive amidst challenges.

As we conclude our series, it’s clear that the journey of decision-making in small businesses is cyclical, moving from understanding the ‘why’, mastering the ‘how’, and reflecting on the outcomes. By embedding a culture of reflection and continuous learning, small businesses can navigate the unpredictable world of small business entrepreneurship with agility and confidence, turning every decision into a stepping stone towards success.


  • Syed, Matthew. “Why you should have your own black box.” TEDxLondonBusinessSchool. 2016.
  • Kahneman, D., & Klein, G. “Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree.” American Psychologist, 64(6), 515–526.

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