Quick decisions help medium sized businesses

| August 21, 2012

Gut instinct, timing and action are critical for developing a business. David Brown, First 5000 member and founder of e-commerce company, Trixan, shares his thoughts on why making quick decisions has helped his company.

There’s no doubt that the best decision I have ever made was to go into the pet supply market in the US when we did, in 2002.

I knew that new market was gaining traction and we wanted something which was consumable, we wanted something that was a large and expanding market, so it ticked all the boxes for us and we decided to go with it.

Out of all the industries we could have chosen, I think we chose one of the best, it was a great decision. There’s been a lot of bad, very very expensive decisions along the way, however that one good decision obviously outweighs them all because we are still here today.

Over the last 10 years we’ve ridden the wave of online retail and are currently trading in Australia, the UK and the US across a number of verticals.

We have generated over $200 million in revenues over the last 10 years and are currently looking to further expand into a number of new markets.

I believe our success has come from being in the rightplace at the right time and acting quickly to seize the opportunity. When we started, we were essentially at the forefront of online retail – now I think it has reached critical mass, but it has been a high growth area for the last ten years.

In particular, when we started the Australian dollar was 55c to the US dollar. That gave us considerable competitive advantage to the US market so we were able to sell our products very cost effectively and we had not less competition, but less sophisticated competition.

Luckily enough, literally the week we launched, the Australian dollar started increasing in value and kept increasing for the next ten years.

I’ve always found that my normal decision making process is based on a combination of research, gut feeling and personal history. I’m a relatively quick decision maker and I think a person running a mid-sized business needs to rely on their gut feeling more so than someone ensconced within a large corporation, where there are safety barriers in place to stop wrong decisions from being made, and deal with them if they are.

Although, making quick decisions won’t get you a result if you haven’t thoroughly assessed the market and done your research first and, unfortunately, timing usually comes in to it which is something you can’t always control as well as the other factors.

There’s no doubt that as a mid-sized business operator and entrepreneur I have to rely on moving fast to keep ahead of the game. I’ve been to things like Stump the Strategist where they focus on making quick decisions and heard the research that says most CEO’s decisions are made in 9 minutes or less. Although I’m not sure I hit that 9 minute mark, I think that lagging on making most decisions certainly doesn’t get you where you want to be.

In terms of more strategic decisions that have a bigger influence, as I get older I’m starting to make a conscious decision to actually take more time to make them.  I think it’s experience wanting me to consciously try to remove that first emotive response out of the decision making process.  So you may have a gut feeling, which is normally right, but you don’t want your decision to be purely an emotional response to a situation.

So I’m trying to consciously give myself a day or two, and normally my decision doesn’t actually change, it normally comes through like “yeah, I did feel that way” and it just reaffirms my gut feeling.  So in a way I am just trying to eliminate risk by making the process of following my gut a little more planned and conscious.

Not all those things you put into action are going to pan out the way you hoped or are going to end up being the right decision, so it doesn’t always pay to agonise over making it.

Conversely, just because you make decisions quickly doesn’t mean you are making good decisions, because just making a decision alone doesn’t translate into success.  What’s more important is taking action and making your decisions firmly, and then following through with them.  So the world’s best idea is worth a dollar, put into action it might be worth ten dollars, that’s what makes the difference, not necessarily the time it took to make the decision.

David Brown is a Sydney father-of-two who began his retailing company from the stationery cupboard of his tiny office. After 10 years David sells 40,000 products across 100 brands on Trixan Body and his robust pet store Trixan Pet stocks 3,000 products and sells to the US, UK and Australia. What sets David apart from his fellow e-entrepreneurs is his approach to building and running online stores. David does everything in his power to replicate the high street experience online – from providing runway video of EVERY product on Trixan Body and selling pet products at prices way below those sold in stores, to launching ‘Free Shipping and Free Returns’ for life to ensure his customers can order and return what doesn’t fit at no extra cost. In 2010 Trixan was awarded the NSW Export Award for Large Services and in 2011 David was nominated for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.