Everyone has conscious and unconscious biases. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re prejudiced — biases are simply the way we view the world and the people around us based on our background, upbringing, culture and self-identity.
The existence of bias isn’t inherently bad, but it can become a problem when we allow personal beliefs and preferences to creep into objective decision-making processes. As a founder, it’s essential to become aware of your own biases and actively work to set them aside when you’re making business decisions. Below, seven entrepreneurs explain how to do just that.
Ask people you trust to weigh in.
Founders are used to being the ones with the final say, but that doesn’t mean you should be the only one involved in the decision. Ben Landis, CEO of Fanbase, recommends surrounding yourself with a group of trusted colleagues and advisors who can give you a gut check.
“When it comes time to make a big decision, I run my thoughts by those around me who I trust most,” he says. “They know why I am coming to them and will play devil’s advocate to help me see all sides.”
Wait 24 hours before making a decision.
Making impulsive, emotional decisions is the easiest way to let your biases get the best of you. That’s why Mauricio Cardenal, founder of Roofing Marketing Pros, always waits a full day before making any important decisions.
“One thing that can help me make a rational choice is to wait 24 hours and create a list of pros and cons,” says Cardenal. “When I wait, I know my choice will be less based on emotion.”
Recruit a diverse team.
Thursday Bram of The Responsible Communication Style Guide knows how powerful a diverse team can be. “The only way to understand our own biases is to talk to people with different experiences,” she explains.
Talking to people with local knowledge helped her tremendously when she moved from the Midwest to the East Coast. “When I first moved, I didn’t have the basic knowledge of what running a local event would require,” says Bram. “The difference between the need for public transit access (and the reduced need for parking) was earth-shattering, and something I wouldn’t have known without a diverse team.”
Step back and look at the bigger picture.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day aspects of running your business, according to Joey Kercher, president of Air Fresh Marketing. However, founders need to get away from being “in” the business and take a 10,000-foot view to really see things clearly.
“Give yourself space for at least 30 minutes each day to think high-level,” Kercher recommends. “Establishing a clear vision of what you are trying to do and accomplish is critical, as is outlining the small steps required to get there.”
Rely on data.
Data can be your best friend when it comes to unbiased decision-making. As Baruch Labunski of Rank Secure notes, “you can’t argue with the numbers.”
“Whether you’re reviewing an employee’s performance or the business overall, you have to remove your emotional bias from your view and look at the cold, hard facts,” Labunski says. “Understanding how your bias might impact you is a good step to ensure you’re looking objectively at the current picture of your business.”
Consider the benefits of the opposite choice.
When faced with a decision, you probably have a gut reaction telling you which choice you want to make. Adelaida Sofia Diaz-Roa, COO of Nomo FOMO, says it’s important to consider all sides and perspectives of potential actions or decisions — even if you have to Google why doing the opposite of your intended decision would be a good choice.
“It not only helps you feel more sure of your decision if someone questions it, but it helps you notice if there is something that you might have missed because of an unconscious bias,” adds Diaz-Roa.
Remove yourself from the equation.
Whenever Karlo Tanjuakio of GoLeanSixSigma.com is faced with a tough decision, he finds it’s best to remove himself from the situation.
“Being impartial is tough. Emotions generally run high when you’re making decisions on things you’re passionate about. I think about what’s best for the business and its growth — not what’s best for me personally,” he says. “When the business wins, everyone wins.”